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Special Event Guide: The iRacing Sebring 12 Hours

The iRacing Special Event that follows the season-opening Daytona 24 hours for GTP, LMP2 and GT3 cars, the Sebring 12 Hours is a race you don’t want to miss.

The Sebring 12 Hours is a prestigious endurance race held annually at the Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Florida. It is one of North America’s oldest and most gruelling sports car endurance races, often considered one of the most prestigious events in endurance racing with the 24 Hours of Le Mans and 24 Hours of Daytona.

The race is part of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and attracts competitors from prototypes and GT classes. The Sebring circuit is famous for its challenging and unforgiving nature, making it a test of endurance, reliability, skill and strategy.

The Sebring 12 Hours in iRacing is an online endurance event replicating the real-life race. This guide covers everything you need about this event, including the schedule, race format, cars and strategy.

When is the 2024 Sebring 12 Hours held?

The Sebring 12 Hours in 2024 is scheduled for the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of March. As usual, there are four starting times to accommodate drivers in all time zones:

  • Friday 22:00 GMT. This slot is ideal for teams in Asia and Australia as the race commences on Saturday morning and concludes in the evening, sparing teammates from enduring late-night stints.
  • Saturday 7:00 GMT. This slot tends to have fewer participants, making it an optimal choice for newcomers and teams with drivers in different time zones because most teams prefer the noon GMT broadcast race. 
  • Saturday noon GMT. The “main” time slot with the highest participation and a live broadcast of the top split.
  • Saturday 16:00 GMT. The most convenient option for teams in North and South America, as the entire race comfortably fits within the day’s time frame.

What is the Sebring International Raceway?

Sebring is one of the oldest continuously operating race tracks in the United States. The circuit is notorious for its rough, bumpy surface, which poses a unique challenge to drivers and cars. This feature demands a specific setup and driving style to navigate successfully. 

Sebring also has asphalt and concrete sections with varying levels of grip, which add complexity and difficulty for drivers.

The circuit is 6.019 kilometres long and offers many diverse corners, including hairpins and fast sweeps. The most famous corners are the Hairpin (Turn 7), the Sunset Bend (Turn 17), and the challenging double-apex Turn 1, all of which present unique challenges for drivers and are integral parts of Sebring’s character.

The circuit hosts many racing events, including IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship 12 Hours of Sebring, FIA World Endurance Championship 1000 Miles of Sebring, Michelin Pilot Challenge and multiple national series.

  • To study how to handle a car on this track in more detail, take a look at the iRacing Lap Guide in Porsche 992 GT3 R on the Coach Dave Academy YouTube channel.

The Cars

The Sebring 12 Hours is a multiclass event with three available classes: GTP (Acura, BMW, Porsche and Cadillac), LMP2 (Dallara) and GT3 (Lamborghini, Audi, Mercedes, Ferrari, BMW and Porsche). 

Unlike in the real-life race, there is no LMP3 class. Besides, you can choose only the GT3 cars used in the real IMSA Championship, so there is no vintage McLaren MP4-12C GT3 or Ford GT GT3.

iRacing adjusts the performance of different cars in the same class by the balance of performance (BoP) rules, custom for this event. Note that the lap times in the table below were set in iRacing without the custom BoP applied.

GTP class

CarEngineiRacing public lap time records since 2023
Cadillac V-Series RMid-engine5.5-litre V8Naturally aspirated1:39.986
Acura ARX-06Mid-engine2.4-litre V6Turbocharged1:40.005
BMW M Hybrid V8Mid-engine4.0-litre V8Turbocharged1:40.060
Porsche 963Mid-engine4.5-litre V8Turbocharged1:40.985

LMP2 class

CarEngineiRacing public lap time records since 2023
Dallara P217Mid-engine4.2-litre V8Naturally aspirated1:44.448

GT3 class

CarEngineiRacing public lap time records since 2023
Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EvoMid-engine
5.2-litre V10
Naturally aspirated
1:56.451
Mercedes-AMG GT3 2020Front-engine
6.3-litre V8
Naturally aspirated
1:56.939
Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo IIMid-engine
5.2-litre V10
Naturally aspirated
1:56.968
Porsche 911 GT3 R (992)Rear-engine
4.2-litre flat-six
Naturally aspirated
1:57.243
BMW M4 GT3Front-engine
3.0-litre straight-six
Turbocharged
1:57.380
Ferrari 296 GT3Mid-engine
2.9-litre V6
Turbocharged
1:57.519
  • If you need setups for this event, Coach Dave Academy has you covered regardless of the class or car. Check out Coach Dave Academy’s iRacing setup subscription that includes setups prepared for the Sebring International Raceway for GTP, LMP2 and GT3 cars.

The Sebring 12 Hours format

You need a minimum D-level road racing license to participate in the Sebring 12 Hours and register for this event as a team, including at least two drivers. iRacing will designate a split for your team based on the total road racing rating. Each split comprises 50 cars.

The event commences with an eight-minute qualifying session to establish the starting grid for each split. During this session, drivers have the opportunity to clock two fast laps. While only one team member can qualify, the starting driver for the race can differ from the qualifier.

At 9:30 AM sim time, the race commences with a rolling start procedure. There are no yellow flag periods that often bunch up the field, unlike in the real-life IMSA Sebring 12 Hours, so the sim racing event puts more focus on your pace and consistency.

There is an automatic incident limit for the team. The team gets a drive-through penalty after the first 50 incidents and the same penalty for every 20 incidents after that.

Race Strategy

The race track undergoes significant changes throughout the event due to varying temperatures and surface rubbering. Tyres wear faster in hot conditions compared to cooler night periods. Practice before the race in various conditions to see if and when you can double-stint the tyres because pit stops will be longer if you take new tyres and fuel compared to just fuel.

As for the fuel strategy, you want to minimise the number of pit stops during the race. If you have to splash and dash for the final stint, it is likely a good idea to save fuel, extend every stint by a lap and avoid this extra pit stop altogether. The exact math depends on the car, fuel tank capacity and your race pace.

Summary

The Sebring 12 Hours is one of the most tricky endurance events during the year. This bumpy circuit, combined with the heavy multiclass traffic and changing weather conditions, gives drivers a unique challenge. Remember that if you need help to prepare for the race and gain an edge against the competition, Coach Dave Academy has many setups, video guides and coaching tailored for this event.

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