Alex's motto of the week was also our motto for the race. I drove the first two hours, 25 minutes of the race and kept all four corners as clean as possible, and turned it over to Townsend in second place and in good shape. We led our class at the five-hour mark, and at that point, the plan then was for me to do a single stint and then get ready to finish off the final two hours of the race. This single turned into a pretty intense double stint and featured a huge battle for the lead with Sean Edwards. We had a 30-minute battle, going two-wide into almost every corner, while also trying to stay out of the way of the faster classes of cars on track. When my stint was finally over, I handed the car over to Townsend and I had a little over an hour of rest before getting back to the pits to prepare for the final double stint.
After a restless hour of waiting, a caution came out with two hours and twenty minutes left in the race and I would get in, in the lead, to bring it home. Townsend and Bill had done great and there was not a scratch on the car. The nerves were as high as ever as I leaped over the wall to run around for the final driver change. It was already completely dark on track except for the many inevitable fan bonfires.
The restart came with second place directly behind me after almost 10 hours of racing! I got a good start and kept the lead, but shortly thereafter, going into turn 17, I heard a loud bang and was completely sideways and spinning! It took me a few seconds to register what actually just happened – I just got hit by another GTC car! Numerous unmentionable words poured out of my mouth as I immediately pulled into pit lane thinking our race was over and we had no chance of finishing, let alone winning.
The car was vibrating badly and the steering seemed off. Yet the crew's diagnosis after looking over the car was that all we had was a bent right-rear rim, and otherwise we were fine! Talk about a little bit of luck falling our way; that always plays a major role in these races. I sped out of pit lane and back into the race still leading. I had a ton of trust in my crew guys so on my out lap, my first time through the Bishops Bend, a flat out double left-hander at over 120mph I kept my foot flat and just hoped the rear end would hold…. and it held superbly!
Throughout the remainder of the race I was able to go flat out through the bend every single lap – just incredible given how hard I had been hit! I was able to maintain a gap of more than a minute over the second-placed car and I drove the entire final hour telling myself, “I can't believe I just got hit!” It was my way of staying focused and to keep pushing to ensure that nobody would catch me.
Finally, after the longest hour of my life, I was able to come around Turn 17 for the final time and shout over the radio, “Alex, you have just won your eighth Sebring 12 Hours!” Leh (Keen) came in second place to make it Alex's fifth 1-2 finish at Sebring.
This was by far the biggest moment in my career, and one I will definitely never forget! I could not have done it without all the awesome work from everyone at AJR and fantastic drives from Bill and Townsend – I really wish them all the best for the rest of the season in their new Lotus program. I also have to say thanks to APR Motorsport for allowing me to go and do this race as well as to my teammate, friend, and mentor Dr. Jim Norman for being there and supporting me in person.
Next week I will be back in the APR Audi R8 at Barber. I can't wait to get behind the wheel again at another fantastic track and see what we can do.
Grand-Am Rolex Series driver Dion von Moltke drives the APR Motorsport No. 51 Parathyroid.com / PR Newswire / South African Airways Audi R8. To learn more about Dion, go to www.dionvm.com and on Twitter at @DionvmRacing.