The 12 Hours of Sebring is always exciting, and this was my second time driving in the main event. It was really a smooth weekend up until the race – we had a productive week with SpeedSource and the SKYACTIV Mazda prototype, and all of the drivers were really happy with where the car was setup-wise. We were able to develop the chassis to accommodate Sebring’s grueling conditions, with all its bumps and curbs.
We were feeling confident about the No. 07 Mazda going into the race even though we had to start from the back of the class due to an engine change. On the morning of the race, our SKYACTIV Mazda was dialed in and the anticipation about starting the race was really building, just like it had for me at the Daytona 24.
It was a dynamic and challenging race. The day was uncharacteristic because we found ourselves having to try to make up time. We had a fuel leak that sidelined the No. 07 for a while, but we got back out there and Joel drove until we had an overheating issue – the hot Florida sun was something we had to manage, and it was grueling on both the drivers and the engine components.
Meanwhile, the No. 70 Mazda had to retire from a top-five run after a drive belt issue developed. It was exciting to see my teammates running that high in the field. Although we were disappointed in the results, the No. 70 running competitively in the top five showed a lot of progress. I have a feeling that by year’s end we’ll see our SKYACTIV Mazdas competing for podium positions.