JRM Racing demonstrated its endurance racing potential at the 60th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, after climbing from the back of the grid to an impressive third overall with less than three hours to go.
The team's brand new Honda Performance Development ARX-03a ran perfectly for nine hours and 20 minutes, only for a problem with the car's right-rear suspension to cost 15 laps and 30 minutes, losing the hard-earned position.
Once back on the track, a great recovery resulted in a final placing of 17th overall, twelfth in the FIA
World Endurance Championship standings and seventh in the LMP1 category. However, without the time lost, a podium finish was definitely on the cards.
"I was really hoping that the result would reflect the effort put in by everyone in the team - and it so easily could have done," team principal James Rumsey commented, "Having to fix the suspension cost us 15 laps and, if you subtract that from our final position, we would have finished second. It's disappointing not to have made it to the podium, but our performance underlined the great effort put in by the team for our first race with the new car. I'm already looking forward to the next race at Spa - this time with more time to prepare and test the car."
As well as the first round of the FIA
World Endurance Championship, the classic Sebring event also hosted the opening round of the American Le Mans Series, which helped produce a combined entry of 64 cars.
During the week leading up to the race, the team worked tirelessly to bring the new car up to speed for the unique and bumpy Florida airfield track, with lap times improving for every test and practice session. The progress made meant that David Brabham was able to qualify the car in sixth place overall and fifth of the WEC runners.
The Australian was also first to drive JRM's new toy in the race but, on the reconnaissance lap, when he went to swap the engine power map from 'safety car' to race 'mode', the top came off the switch, which meant he had to make a quick visit to the pits.
The team changed the steering wheel and Brabham rejoined the track at the back of the grid for the formation lap but, within 40 minutes, had fought his way through to tenth place. With all three JRM drivers scheduled to do a double stint, Brabham swapped with Karun Chandhok one hour and 42 minutes into the race, with the Indian exiting the pits in eighth place.
Once used to the traffic - something he had not experienced in F1 - Chandhok delivered a strong performance and, with the car running 100 per cent and the Michelin tyres working well, climbed to sixth place, holding position for the rest of his stint. Peter Dumbreck was next in and set about catching the car ahead of him - and managed to get within a few seconds before pitting at the end of his double stint.