Masters Endurance Legends Starts 2021 at Sebring International Raceway
Masters Endurance Legends USA commenced the 2021 season during the Sebring SportsCar Week on March 12 -13.
David Porter outperformed the field on the weekend in his diesel-powered Peugeot 908 as he took victory in both races, with Travis Engen’s Audi R8 and Joe Robillard’s Norma-Nissan M30 trailing behind. It was nearly 10 years of his car’s biggest race win at the 2011 Sebring 12 Hours.
Race 1 saw David Porter take command of the race and finish in a decisive win. Driving his Peugeot 908, Porter started from pole and immediately created a gap against his early rival Roberto Moreno who was driving the HPD-Honda ARX-03b. Unfortunately, Moreno’s car faltered, with Porter able to create a full lap lead ahead of everyone on track.
Travis Engen in the Audi R8 took over Moreno’s position after six laps but was unable to keep pace with the Peugeot. He was, however, able to obtain a comfortable lead against Joe Robillard in the Norma-Nissan M30 LMP3 car, taking second place at the finish.
Early in the race, the Ligier-Nissan JSP3-15 driven by Ari Balogh and the Elan DP02 driven by Greg Thornton was ahead of the other Ligier driven by Francesco Melandri and Nigel Greensall. Though after the pitstops, with Greensall at the wheel, he quickly went past Thornton and Balogh claiming fourth place.
From the get-go, Porter immediately showed that he was racing to win with a series of five consecutive fastest laps of the race. He recorded an impressive 1.55.846 on lap 5, ensuring that former Benetton F1 driver and Patrick Racing Indycar star, Roberto Moreno, would not have a chance.
Porter’s first lap was impressive, as he created a three-second gap on Moreno, but Porter made sure to increase the distance between him and the Brazilian, and by the 10-minute mark of the 40-minute race, Porter was ahead by 13 seconds.
Almost immediately following, Moreno’s HPD crawled into the pits. Relief driver Jamie Constable attempted one exploratory lap, but that was the end for the HPD, one of the two Honda-powered ARX 03b prototypes that Bob Blain recently acquired.
Among the GT cars, the BMW E46 M3 GTR driven by Scooter Gabel also dominated the track with a 55-second lead ahead of the Porsche 911 GT2 Evo driven by Carlos De Quesada. A lap down, in the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, Theo Ruijgh came third in class.
It was an overall victorious Sebring weekend for David Porter as he again claimed victory in Race 2 of the Masters Endurance Legends USA. Repeating his performance in the first race, Porter made the Peugeot 908 fly, leaving his opponents striving to catch up. By the end of the race, Porter again broke his fastest lap time that he set in race 1, lowering it another tenth.
Travis Engen in the Audi R8 and Joe Robillard in the Norma-Nissan M30 were never far apart finishing in second and third place, respectively. For Race 2, Engen was able to keep Porter from being a lap ahead of him, taking a well-fought second place position. Robillard trailed 20 seconds behind Engen but ahead of the Ligier JSP-15, driven by Francesco Melandri and Nigel Greensall.
Starting from behind, the HPD-Honda ARX-03b driven by Bob Blain, was able to move into fourth in the early part of the race, but they lost time in the pits while handing over the car to Jamie Constable. Trying to make up time, Constable was able to set lap times within two seconds of Porter’s best time but remained in fifth place.
Scooter Gabel shared his BMW E46 M3 GTR with Carlos De Quesada this time, where they finished the race with another GT class win – Gabel’s second success of the day.