DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 18, 2015) – After kicking the 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship (TUSC) off with a podium finish (third) in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Visit Florida Racing has victory in their crosshairs in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida.
In professional sports, teams and athletes dream of the opportunity to win a major championship on their home turf, for Visit Florida Racing that same sentiment is felt in the preparation for the Twelve Hours of Sebring. While the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring won’t decide the 2015 TUSC, it is a critical race for teams planning to position themselves for a run at both the TUSC and the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup (NAEC).
“The checkered flag at Sebring Raceway marks the halfway point for the NAEC,” said team owner Troy Flis. “Sebring can really set the tone for how you approach the rest of the season, if you come out with a great result, you’ve positioned yourself in championship contention. Leave Sebring with a less than ideal result, and you’ve put yourself on the offensive the rest of the year in terms of competing for the championships and that’s not a spot you want to be in.”
The two-tone blue and white No. 90 VISITFLORIDA.COM Chevrolet Corvette DP is a fan favorite at Sebring Raceway, representing the states robust tourism industry and showing off the sleek Chevrolet Corvette C7 body design as it challenges the six-decade old surface, playing host to the 63rd installment of the most grueling twelve hours in motorsports.
“Winning at Sebring would be a major milestone for myself and Visit Florida Racing,” said driver Michael Valiante. “Sebring is a great venue for our team because we are surrounded by our partners from Visit Florida, friends, and the best fans in sports car racing. We certainly have the team capable of winning the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, it simply comes down to flawless execution from the drivers and team members.”
Winning at Sebring ranks near the top of every team owners bucket list, but for lifelong Florida resident Troy Flis winning the Twelve Hours would be a dream come true.
“When you look at the names who have won this race it’s a who’s who of racing. These guys are synonymous with the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Indianapolis 500; most of the guys who’ve won Sebring are considered the legends of racing, so winning puts you in an elite fraternity and in the books of a rich six decade history, and a history that will likely reach a centennial celebration with IMSA’s vision for the future.”
Flis has several SCCA wins at historic Sebring Raceway as a driver, but recognizes that nothing would compare to winning the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida.
“Winning the Twelve Hour of Sebring would be incredible, and that’s what we plan to do.”
Visit Florida Racing comes to Sebring third in the TUSC standings, trailing only the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates No. 02 (not competing full time) and the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette.
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Michael Valiante… “Winning at Sebring would be a major milestone for myself and Visit Florida Racing. Sebring is a great venue for our team because our partners from Visit Florida, friends, family and the best fans in sports car racing surround are all there. We certainly have a team capable of winning the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring; it simply comes down to flawless execution from the drivers and team members. We know we are going to have a fast Chevrolet Corvette Daytona Prototype, we just have to take care of it while still maintaining a great race pace and hopefully put ourselves in a position to win at the end.
“It’s a toss up to determine what Sebring Raceway is harder on, drivers or cars. The teams have done so much to improve the reliability of these cars that anymore it seems like Sebring is harder on the drivers. It’s hot so trying to stay hydrated becomes a priority, then you have to eat and you try get some rest in there so you’re fresh for your next stints but resting is difficult to do with the intensity level.
“I feel like we performed well in the two-day test last week and that speaks volumes for the effort that all the guys on the team put forth after Daytona. Despite some struggles at Daytona we still had a great result, finishing third, so we carry some momentum into the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida and it hopefully that will propel us to our first victory of 2015.”
Richard Westbrook… “After our two day test I feel like Michael, Rocky and myself have a quality Chevrolet Corvette Daytona Prototype to contend with for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Sebring is just as demanding as Daytona and its even more intense because it’s a twelve-hour race. The pace is extremely quick now that the teams have such unbelievable reliability in the cars so it’s very physically and mentally demanding on everyone.
“Sebring is a track full of character. It’s old and bumpy and you have transitions from rough areas to areas that they have repaired over the years so it makes it a driver’s track. You compete all day in the heat, the cars are slipping and sliding around, and then as the night falls the track starts to pick up grip, but you have a much more difficult time seeing the bumps, and then contending with slower traffic gets exponentially more difficult.
“Our test last week went extremely well and I feel like we have some of the small woes that we dealt with a Daytona behind us. It will still take a total team effort to get the win in the twelve hours, but this is a team that is perfectly capable. We were able to win at Watkins Glen last year, so we certainly hope to add another one of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup wins to our team’s resume and this is the best race to make it happen.
“The fans at Sebring Raceway are some of the most diehard fans in racing. They show up a week early, build scaffolding, set up campsites and all sorts of things, its really a party where a race happens, but what better place to have a week long party than central Florida in March.”
Mike Rockenfeller… “Sebring is one of the most prestigious and oldest races in North America, and in the world. I’ve been fortunate in my career to win some of the biggest endurance races, but I haven’t won the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring yet so I would certainly like to get that done this year.
“This is one of the toughest races you will ever run. The amazing part about Sebring is that the pace stays so fast throughout the event. The cars hold up so much better than they have in years past that you really don’t have a period of time to just ride around and log laps, you have to go hard from start to finish.
“Overall I want to win, but if we don’t win, I want to turn in a solid performance to try and help Richard and Michael as they are fighting for the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup this year. With this team they will have a great opportunity to win races and the overall championship this season.
“Sebring’s race fans are amazing. The energy that they have and the sheer number of them that show up through the week is unbelievable. I think estimates are 140,000 fans come in and out of the gates on race weekend and each camping area is like its own city.”