Starworks Motorsports Rebounds to Take Third at 12 Hours of Sebring
After an exhausting 12 Hours of Sebring filled with highs and lows, Starworks Motorsports earned its first podium of the season, finishing on the third step with Renger van der Zande, David Heinemeier Hansson and Alex Popow. The podium puts van der Zande and Popow in third place in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship standings, just six points away from the lead.
With completely new electronics systems just installed in the No. 8 and No. 88 ORECA FLM0s, the Florida based team felt confident of a strong weekend ahead for the 12 Hours of Sebring.
The No. 88 of Renger van der Zande, David Heinemeier Hansson and Alex Popow started P5, and the No. 88 of Sean Johnston, Maro Engel and Michael Lyons started in P7. Despite treacherous weather conditions, including a two hour rain delay, the team raced strong, keeping the cars clean to be there to battle for the lead in the end.
Both cars remained in the fight running in the top four at the halfway point when trouble struck for the No. 8 of van der Zande. The driver reported a possible flat tire, and pitted for the crew to inspect the PC car. The car when back to the garage for repairs, returning five laps later in 7th. From there, the trio pushed hard, despite chances of a podium seeming impossible. With each caution, they gained back lost ground, carefully picking off their competitors.
With four hours to go, the 88’s problems began, with Johnston first reporting an issue with the fuel pump while running third. The team brought it back to the garage and brought the car back out in 7th with three hours to go. In the final hour, a brake failure ended the race early for the No. 88, as Maro Engel pulled the car off to safety.
In the end, the perseverance of the No. 8 led the car to a podium finish, moving them up to third in the championship points. The team next competes at the Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 15-17. Popow and van der Zande will return to the No. 8, while Mark Kvamme and Ashley Freiberg will race in the No. 88.
Renger van der Zande
Third place is nice, especially for the championship. We’re 3rd now, and it’s a good effort. I cannot say I’m really happy, because without the failure on the right rear, we would have been fighting for the win in our class. It’s something that’s a shame, but third place at Sebring is always nice. I’m happy with it and it’s still a long season ahead. We’re doing well and getting there slowly.
David Heinemeier Hansson
It’s nice to finish on the podium, but it’s very frustrating to know we had great pace, perhaps the best pace, and then a bolt takes us out of the contention. But we never gave up, and here we are after being six laps down, we get to stand on the podium, so that’s pretty cool.
It’s a sweet and sour run. We got third place after fighting back a lot. It’s not what we wanted. We knew we could be fighting for a win. At the beginning, we were looking good, just hanging in there. We recovered a little bit, went to the front, when to the back. We were just playing that strategy of keeping the car until the end. The rain played a big role. We were good in the rain, but also one broken bolt put us six laps back. That was the end of our first place fight. The beginning of a fight to try to recover and make a podium. It was almost impossible, but not completely. We had some luck and were able to make it to third place. We’re not happy about a third place, but it’s better than saying out of the race. We’re gaining points for the championship, we’re still fighting until the end of the season.