PT Autosport made its Porsche Deluxe Carrera Cup North America at Sebring International Raceway this weekend, part of the “Super Sebring” weekend that includes the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Teaming with defending series champions JDX Racing, PT Autosport had a long list of firsts to take on for the weekend as driver Alex Sedgwick made his IMSA debut on board the No. 98 JDX Racing with PT Autosport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car.
Sedgwick looked to learn as much as he could, and quickly, as he took on two practice sessions, one chance at qualifying, and two 40-minute races on Thursday that saw the 24-year-old Englishman earn two top 12 finishes – and earn the notice of many in the Porsche paddock.
Mother Nature threw just about every different weather condition possible at the 41-car field through Wednesday’s practice and qualifying sessions. The first practice took the green flag on an uncharacteristically cloudy and chilly morning but Sedgwick managed the changing conditions well, setting the seventh quickest time while posting the most laps in the session (14). In the second practice, he consistently set lap times within a second of the leaders, posting the sixth-fastest time before rain began to fall.
“We decided to do a few laps in the wet to feel out what it was like with the ABS, which will be good experience when we have a rain race later in the year,” said Sedgwick.
By the afternoon’s qualifying session, the more typical warm and humid conditions had returned, though with a slowly warming racetrack surface temperature. Sedgwick gained speed with each lap, reaching fifth position before slotting into the eighth spot on the race one starting grid.
The green flag flew at 9:15 a.m. EDT under bright blue and sunny skies, with ambient temperatures of 71F and track temps at 61F. The field was tightly bunched through the first few corners and Sedgwick did not have a space to slot into, finding himself shuffled back to 12th position.
On lap seven, Sedgwick threw the car to the outside in turn one and made the ambitious maneuver stick, taking 11th position – and earning significant TV time and kudos from IMSA Radio calling the race. Sedgwick bided his time and then, with 12 minutes remaining, made the move into the top 10 with another solid pass.
In addition to carving his way forward, Sedgwick had to work to avoid the perils that come with close, one-design racing. With eight minutes to go, the two cars ahead of Sedgwick came together, with the lead car spinning away. Sedgwick avoided the combatants and deftly slide into eighth position and held that position to the checkered flag.
Sedgwick set his quick lap of the race just before the halfway mark, with a lap at 2:03.545.
“I didn’t do as good a job as I could on getting the tires and the brakes up to temp on those early laps, but that will come with experience,” said Sedgwick. “Once the temps and the pace came back, I was able to focus on regaining positions. It’s hard to pass because of the ABS, which minimizes mistakes, so I had to be creative – turns one and 17 are my strongest sectors so I knew I’d have to make a couple of hairy moves to get through. Later in the race, I could see how aggressive the guys were ahead of me, so I had a feeling something was going to happen – glad we weren’t caught up in it!”
Sedgwick took the green flag from 11th once again, carefully maneuvered his way through the frenetic first lap, losing only one position. Also in a near repeat of the morning, Sedgwick began laying down solid lap times within a second of the leaders and pursuing a spirited battle to retake 11th position. Sedgwick set his quick lap of the race on lap eight with a circuit of 2:04.528.
Throughout the 40-minute race, Sedgwick made every attempt to get past the car ahead, but to no avail – also a hallmark of one-make racing. Despite the race-long attack, Sedgwick settled for a 12th place finish – but with the distinction of bringing home a completely pristine Porsche GT3 Cup car.
“I think after having some time to decompress, I’ll be relatively happy or satisfied at least,” said Sedgwick. “It was a bit of a trial by fire, because it was such a compressed schedule. We were on the back foot after qualifying, which certainly put us back in traffic but that’s part of learning. I’ve been racing stock cars for a while, where you have no aero dependency, so I have more to consider now before making a move. As soon as you get stuck behind someone for a lap or two, like you have to reset and start again.
“But the car ran flawlessly and the JDX team has been amazing – they have a ton of experience. We’re up against a lot of drivers who really know these cars so it’s been really good for me to learn this week. On the whole, a pretty solid debut but definitely room to work on and improve.”
“I am happy with our performance this past weekend and ecstatic about the team we have assembled, starting with the tone from the top in our co-founders – Jason Myers, our team principal, and our first driver partner, Alex Sedgwick,” said Dais. “Alex put his heart out there on the track and gave it his all. We will gather and evaluate our data from this past weekend and strengthen our mindset and resolve heading into the Long Beach race weekend next month.
“Thanks to our support crew at JDX Racing for preparing a competitive car for Alex and our team,” continued Dais. “We are fortunate to be partnered with many seasoned professionals that align with our talent development and competition goals, which include Jeremy Dale and JDX Racing, Byers/Porsche Columbus, Renier Construction, PDCA Marketing, Sunday Group Management and ReVamp Marketing.”
The Deluxe Porsche Carrera Cup North America joins the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES at the legendary Long Beach Grand Prix, with two races on the weekend. Race one takes the green flag Saturday, April 15 at 5:15 p.m. PDT, with race two Sunday at 4:20 p.m. The race will be broadcast live in the U.S., on IMSA.tv, the NBC Peacock streaming app and PorscheCarreraCup.us.