South African Stephen Simpson driving with Americans Chris Miller and Kenton Koch and Canadian Misha Goikhberg, kept their IMSA Prototype Challenge Championship chase on the sharp end of the title table when they survived shambolic conditions to drive the #85 Hi-Tide Red Line JDC Miller Motorsports ORECA FLM09 Chevrolet to fourth in class in the weekend’s Twelve Hours of Sebring.
The team survived a race stoppage during a wild thunder and lightning storm amid driving rain; multiple caution periods and a couple of incidents to add to a well-earned fourth position to their season-opening Daytona 24-hour class win and keep within a point of the championship lead.
“That was an interesting race to say the least!” former SA A1 GP driver Simpson admitted. “I took the car over from Misha who had started fifth just as it started to rain for my stint — we were second in class and I managed to move into the lead before all hell broke loose an hour and a half into my stint.
“A gale force wind blew up and it started to pour with rain, then the yellows came out and the race was eventually stopped when the lightning started an hour into my stint. “I never had too long in the car, but I certainly had to contend with most of the trouble,” Stephen, who handed the class-leading car back to Goikhberg shortly after the restart pointed out.
Goikhberg was involved in two incidents in the treacherous conditions that followed, firstly in contact with a couple of GT cars and then falling off in avoidance of another incident, after which the team lost five laps while repairing light damage to the front of the car.
Chris Miller then drove into the night before handing over to Kenton Koch as the team fought back to unlap themselves and eventually finish fourth in class behind the similar Bennett-Braun-Wilkins CORE Autosport, Kimber-Smith-Gutierrez-Mathiasen Motorsports and Popow-van der Zande-Hansson Starworks ORECA Chevrolets.
That sees Simpson’s JDC-Miller team sitting just one point adrift of the Mathiasen Motorsports car and five points clear of the Starworks entry in a championship with everything still to play for.
“Sebring wasn’t the easiest weekend,” Indianapolis-based Capetonian Simpson concluded. “But fourth was a good result in the end and we’ve built up some excellent championship momentum. “Now we just need some more consistency to conserve our championship challenge…”
The third round of the IMSA Prototype Challenge series is at Laguna Seca, California 17 April where Simpson and the JDC Miller Motorsports ORECA Chevy crew will be out to keep that championship momentum rolling.