The Mobil 1 Race of Sebring was won by Keith Murphy after the Canadian came from 11th on the grid to beat the rest of the field, benefiting from many big-name retirements at the front of the field.
Pole-sitter Lewis Ellington made a great start, as did Marcus Thunder, but from third place Nick Addison had a shocker. Yakumi Takahashi managed to get ahead into turn 1, while half a lap later Will Taylor also managed to get past the Australian. On lap 13, Callum Brandon’s Jaguar engine expired in spectacular fashion in the final corner, but the wide nature of the home straight meant he could bring the car to halt in a safe place. Lap 17 saw a big accident involving Felipe Cesar, who lost control of his car in the turn 7 hairpin, hitting the tyre wall heavily. He was unhurt, but barrier repairs were required, meaning the safety car was deployed.
On the restart on lap 21, Ellington again gapped Thunder, while Taylor passed Takahashi for third into Tower. Further back, Enzo Domenicalli and Alex Wright were battling over 11th position, and as they entered turn 15 – Gendebien – Wright collided with the sidepod of Domenicalli, causing radiator damage to the Italian and damaging Wright’s suspension.
On lap 35, Takahashi was under serious pressure with Addison on his tail for fourth place, and when Addison drew alongside down the home straight, the Japanese driver squeezed his Morley team-mate towards the pit wall. Unfortunately, they banged wheels, which spun both drivers around, putting both into the wall rear wing first. This brought out the second full course caution of the day, and by this point, Murphy was still only up to eighth position – Ellington led Thunder, Brock Kidd, Taylor, Rodrigo Sanchez and Dino Palma.
When the race resumed on lap 40, Ellington this time couldn’t break away from the rest of the field. It soon emerged that he was suffering from engine gremlins, and five laps later he entered the pit lane and finished his last IndyVirtual race early - clearly devastated, with Hugh Dwyer following him in with a gearbox problem. This promoted Marcus Thunder and Brock Kidd to first and second, with Rodrigo Sanchez overtaking Taylor in an opportunist move at the Hairpin. Murphy also started his late race charge, dispatching Palma and Taylor to move up into fourth position by lap 60 while Hiroto Nakumaya added to the list of retirements, pitting from 17th with brake problems.
Thunder and Kidd were fighting very hard for the lead, with an exchange that included a huge divebomb from Kidd into turn 1. A lap later, Thunder tried the same move, but it was telegraphed by Kidd – but Kidd’s late defence caught Thunder out, meaning the Downton reserve clipped Kidd and ended up snapping his front right suspension along with Kidd’s rear wing upright. Both cars limped back to the pitlane, and Rodrigo Sanchez was promoted to first with Keith Murphy right behind. From almost nowhere, Drake Davies had a closing salvo that included three of the top 5 laps in the race, including the fastest, overtaking Luke Stokey, Palma and Taylor to take third position.
On lap 73, with only two laps to go, Keith Murphy launched a risky move into the Hairpin, and while Sanchez saw it coming, there was nothing he could do as the Canadian drove all the way around the outside to take the lead. He held on to the position until the end, taking victory ahead of Sanchez, Davies, Taylor, Palma and Stokey.
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