Successful VP SportsCar Challenge Weekend For Sean Creech Motorsport; Willsey Earns Two Fourth’s
Story By: DIANE SWINTAL / SEAN CREECH MOTORSPORT – SEBRING, FL – Sean Creech Motorsport (SCM) came to the VP Racing SportsCar Challenge double header at Sebring International Raceway with the plan to gain more track time and more data ahead of next Saturday’s 71st annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring (Saturday at 10:10 a.m. Eastern on Peacock TV and USA Network).
Mission accomplished for the No. 30 SCM Exelixis/Focal One Ligier JS P320 team, as Lance Willsey battled hard through the pair of 45-minute races to bring home two fourth-place finishes.
The VP Racing SportsCar Challenge joined the World Endurance Championship (WEC) for the two-day event at Sebring. The WEC held a two-day test ahead of next weekend’s “Super Sebring” event – to be headlined by the IMSA 12-hour race. Willsey and the team made good use of the track time to continue preparations to defend their Sebring win last year.
Willsey and the team worked on setups through two 30-minute practice sessions Saturday in very warm and humid conditions. Placing the car seventh on the starting grid, Willsey was determined to continue his progress, lay down good lap times and aim for a podium position.
Given the overnight change to Daylight Savings Time, Sunday’s 8:00 a.m. green flag was especially early – and surprisingly chilly, with ambient temperatures in the mid-50s. The cool conditions meant that getting the Michelin tires warmed quickly was paramount, and Willsey immediately settled into a rhythm.
Laying down solid laps and taking advantage of the mistakes of others, Willsey purposefully made his way up through the field. Managing heavy GT traffic, he set lap times consistently within a second of the leaders and made a move into fourth position with 20 minutes remaining. A late caution brought the field back together and Willsey took aim on that final podium position but at the checkered flag, settled for fourth – but with another shot later in the day.
By mid-afternoon, the weather had changed once again, in typical Sebring fashion, returning to hot and humid conditions. Willsey, starting in sixth position, was happy to find that the car’s setup was still spot-on, putting a quick and stable car underneath him. Avoiding a two-car incident on the first lap, Willsey slid into fourth position – but with the No. 77 Ligier right on his rear wing.
The duo battled hard for much of the early going, with Willsey digging hard and holding off his competitor. Willsey put down consistently quicker laps and with 20 minutes remaining, began to pull away. At the checkered flag, Willsey had placed nearly 14 seconds between himself and the fifth-place car, securing another fourth-place finish and coming away with an undamaged car.
All in all, a successful weekend.
“I struggled a bit to find pace on Saturday, though the car was very good,” said Willsey. “Track conditions were very different today, but the car still handled well. I qualified toward the back, which presented a bit of chaos – but credit to the field, we got through those early laps with no incidents. And kudos to the GT4 drivers: with the LMP3’s closing speeds and constant passing, I was impressed with how heads-up everyone was with traffic.
“I clicked off some laps and am getting that pace back. I’m happy with effort, from myself and everyone on the team. It’s all about being in the best position we can be in going into the 12-hour next weekend.”
“Lance did a good job,” said team principal Sean Creech. “He stayed out of trouble and kept the car clean. It’s just been a while since he’s been in the car and that’s what this weekend was all about. He set good times, especially in the heat of the day. The car was handling well and we were able to try a few new setups, especially in the heat of the day. Our car is in a good spot, though we know the track will continue changing through this next week.”
SCM thanks partners Exelixis and Focal One for their continued support.
The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring – race two of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – takes the green flag Saturday, March 18 at 10:10 a.m. Eastern. The race will be live streamed in its entirety on Peacock TV, with the final four and a half hours live on USA Network.