AF Waltrip Sebring Race Report
SEBRING, Florida (March 18, 2012) – The No. 61 RK Motors/AF Waltrip Racing Ferrari F458 Italia, and drivers Michael Waltrip, Rob Kauffman and Rui Aguas, rebounded from an early electrical issue to set a new race lap record and nearly reach the podium in Saturday’s 60th Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring where the team finished fourth in the LMGTE Am class.
“P4 in class is not bad,” Kauffman said. “We were shooting for the podium but that early setback was hard to overcome. Mike and Rui did a terrific job, Mike was right on the pace there at the end, he is getting really good at this sports car stuff. The night was a bit of a battle but we survived. Overall it was a good experience and I am glad we made it to the end.”
Opening driver Aguas quickly began to reel in the leaders from his sixth-place staring spot in the opening race laps but soon slowed with what turned out to be a faulty ECU (Electronic Control Unit). The AF Waltrip Racing team spent the better part of the race’s opening hour repairing the Ferrari, which returned as the fastest car in the competitive LMGTE Am class. Late in the race during his final driving stint on lap 243, Aguas set a record race lap of 2:01.746, a time nearly two seconds quicker than what the team was able to do in qualifying.
“The car was good since we changed from Friday in qualifying,” Aguas said. “In the race morning warm up we did another three changes, and the car was on the pace. I think we had the fastest car out there. I was catching the leaders at the beginning of the race until we had an electronic problem. We lost 12 laps and from then on we just tried to recover. We had the fastest lap in the category, at night and we had it during the day, somebody beat us, but then I got that lap back. We had a good car but to lose those 12 laps is what cost us the podium.”
Waltrip drove three shifts during the race, including the final 25-minute night run to the checkered flag.
“We had some good times and the car was fine,” said Waltrip, the two-time Daytona 500 winner. “We have EFI now in NASCAR and here we have an ECU, an Electronic Control Unit, I had never even heard of one, and I’ll be darned if it didn’t break. We never break anything and obviously we had a car that could have contended, and that’s awesome. So that’s fun, I am proud of Rui, I am proud of Rob, and we just continue to get better and learn. Hopefully one day we can win one of these things.”
In addition to being motorsports business partners, Kauffman and Waltrip, have co-driven in several international endurance races the last few seasons, including this year’s Rolex 24 At Daytona, the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2011 and two appearances at the 24 Hours of Dubai. Aguas, a winning sports car driver from Portugal, is also a regular part of the driving lineup with AF Waltrip Racing.
Next up for AF Waltrip Racing is Round Two of the 2012 World Endurance Championship (WEC), May 5th, with the Spa-Francorchamps 6 Hours in Belgium.