Strong outing ends short of the goal after freak incident
Sebring, Fla. (20 March 2023) - While racing for a win in the closing moments of the 12 Hours of Sebring, the No. 30 Airbnb / S2 Cyber Ligier JS P320 of Ari Balogh, Garett Grist, and Dakota Dickerson was knocked out of the race after the wheel from a just-crashed LMP2 prototype landed on the Ligier and caused race-ending damage.
The shocking and sudden end of the race extinguished hopes for a second consecutive podium appearance for the team in the 12 Hour, with the Jr III (“Junior-Three”) Racing squad having been well-positioned for a possible win until the incident.
Balogh started the 12 hour from fifth, matching his career-best qualifying effort as he moved forward into podium position through his strong opening 84-lap stint. Grist took over from second in the order before turning over to Dickerson, who took the controls of the Ligier under caution with the car still holding strong in second place. Following the eighth restart of the race, Dickerson passed for the lead with three and half hours remaining in the day-to-night race.
Grist took over for the final stint of the night with just under two hours remaining and continued to build the team advantage to a full 95-second lead. That advantage was erased with a caution, but with a fast car and a Jr III Racing squad that was executing on both sides of pit wall, there was good reason for optimism.
Unfortunately, those high hopes were dashed by a flying wheel from another car, which caused race-ending damage.
“It was awesome to be back with Jr III Racing this weekend,” said Dickerson. “Being P1 in all three practices was a good feeling. Ari had an amazing qualifying session and I think Garett (Grist) had the fastest lap of the race. We were able to control the race until we really just had the worst of worst luck in racing. There was only an hour to go and the race was looking great when a bouncing tire hit us like an asteroid strike. This race definitely could have been ours. I’m very grateful to be a part of the team and happy to be back and looking forward to what's next.”
“We had mega pace here this year,” said Grist. “It’s great to know that we have it in us to put the whole package together. I think we had a really good shot at it tonight, but just completely got it taken away from us. I didn’t see the tire rolling in the dark when I was going around turn one. The team did an amazing job, it just sucks that it ended like that with an hour left to go.”
Jr III Racing will be back in action at Watkins Glen International for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen June 22-23rd.