Sunday, March 22, 2009

12 hours on Saturday

Question: Is it possible, being a member of a family of four, each with busy schedules, as well as being piled under a variety of different work assignments, to watch or otherwise pay attention to almost all of a 12-hour car race on television on a weekend?

A: Apparently yes, but it requires the use of multiple technologies.

And so the 57th running of the American Le Mans Series Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring is over, having occupied most of Saturday's daylight hours and a good chunk of the night as well. And yes, by employing a complicated dance involving running up and down the stairs, laptop in hand for the live scoring and timing updates, and switching to internet radio feed when necessary (like, for example, when Speed TV inexplicably saw fit to go away from coverage for a couple of hours of NASCAR qualifying in the middle), I actually managed to stay in touch with almost all of the race.

Which, as it turned out, was epic. The new LMP1 class Acura prototypes were fast, but had a number of reliability issues resulting in them falling out of contention, whereas one class down in LMP2, last year's Lowe's Fernandez Acura ARX-01b was reliable, steady and fast, finishing first in its class and beating the pants off a couple of also-unreliable Mazda/Lola coupes fielded by Dyson Racing, who have switched from the Porsches they ran last year.

But the real drama was up in LMP1, a battle royal between the new Audi R15 and updated Peugeot 908 turbo-diesel monsters, with the veteran Audi crew of Dindo Capello, Allan McNish and "Mr. Le Mans" Tom Kristensen eventually prevailing.

And, as in previous years, down in the GT2 class there was another battle shaping up, with the slightly updated red Ferrari F430 eventually walking away from the Porsche teams, and the five-year-old Panoz Esperante fending off a late Porsche challenge to grab third in class.

It's the first time I've watched this race around what is essentially part of an airport in Florida, and it was hugely entertaining - very high cornering speeds, horrendously bumpy track, and most importantly, a good, solidly-contested event with no dirty business at all (although one of the Flying Lizard Porsches might disagree, having been slightly punted by the Panoz with an hour or so left to race). Congratulations also to the Robertson Racing Ford GT in its attractive new red-and-gray livery, which qualified a very respectable fifth in GT2, finally finishing in seventh after being collected in a collision partway through the race. A much better result than last year at Mosport, where the car unfortunately spent most of the time relaxing with its feet up.

And so, where does this leave me? Well, I did manage to get some work done on the laptop during all of this, and didn't totally abandon my family. Now Sunday's here, I've still got lots to do, the weather's a bit chilly for yard work, and because I wasn't in Florida yesterday I don't have a raftload of photos from the race to edit, like I did from the race in late August last year.

Next up: St. Petersburg, on April the fourth. I'm already planning my viewing strategy.


Anonymous said...

You know, reading this post, I felt like Porsche Guy was talking at me! Actually, I didn't get quite as many details from him (must have been my glazed look), but in his defense, he wasn't able to watch Sebring as much as you did. But look out next weekend: the F1 season starts in Melbourne!

Ricardipus said...

Oh yes, F1... as I do every year, I will try to get excited about it. ;)

Counting down the days until the local ALMS race at Mosport... end of August.

Anonymous said...
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Ricardipus said...

Bye bye, spammer.

john.g. said...

Roll on the Moto G.P. season!

Ricardipus said...

Moto GP - that's like car racing with fewer wheels, right?

P.S. Blogger's word verification for this comment was SLASHEM, which is just excellent.