The No. 88 Richard Mille/Champion Porsche 911 GT3 R Narrowly Missed a Podium, While Earl Bamber, Rob Ferriol and Trenton Estep Persevered For a Top 10
SEBRING, Florida (March 20, 2021) – Team Hardpoint EBM’s No. 88 Richard Mille/Champion Porsche 911 GT3 R just missed out on the podium in Saturday’s 69th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, and the No. 99 GridRival Porsche 911 GT3 R team car persevered to add a second top-10 finish in the second round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona (GTD) season.
Katherine Legge had the No. 88 Porsche in third place as the clock expired but was issued a late drive through penalty by race officials for contact with a competitor. Following conversation from the team to race control, Legge served the penalty with just two laps remaining and, along with teammates Christina Nielsen and Bia Figueiredo, finished fifth at the checkered flag.
The all-female driver lap completed 320 laps around the 3.74-mile Sebring International Raceway, finishing just 52.944 seconds behind the class winner after 1,196.8 miles.
Nielsen, co-driving the season in the No. 88 Richard Mille/Champion Porsche 911 GT3 R with Legge, began the race ninth on the grid and remained in that same position after her opening double stint. Figueiredo, making her return to IMSA competition after a year away from racing, climbed as high as fourth during the pit stop cycle four hours into the race.
The all-female driver line-up held consistently among the top seven through the afternoon but began to pick up the pace as the temperatures cooled and the sun began to set. Legge’s final stint began with just over two hours, 30-minutes to go in the race and in seventh place.
Legge was fourth when the race restarted after a full-course caution with just 17 minutes to go, making a pass for third just two laps later before serving the penalty and falling to fifth.
The No. 99 GridRival/Team Hardpoint EBM Porsche 911 GT3 R driven by team co-owners Earl Bamber and Rob Ferriol and joined for the endurance race by Trenton Estep ran into trouble early in the race.
Contact with a GTLM car changed the alignment and handling during Ferriol’s opening stint, which led to front-end damage and a pit-road splitter change by the Team Hardpoint EBM crew. With just over eight hours remaining and pushing hard to make up the lost laps, Bamber had contact that required a return to the paddock for repairs. The No. 99 Porsche spent one-hour, 20-minutes under the team’s tent while the crew made the extensive fix before returning to action.
Once back on track with nearly seven hours remaining in the race, the No. 99 machine remained on pace – but was unable to make up ground to the leaders. The team ultimately salvaged a 10th place finish after completing 280 laps.
Legge and Nielsen return to action in the No. 88 Richard Mille/Champion Porsche 911 GT3 R alongside Ferriol and Bamber’s No. 99 GridRival/Team Hardpoint EBM Porsche 911 GT3 R at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for round three of the IMSA WeatherTech Championship and the first two-hour, 40-minute sprint race of the season after two endurance racing classics to open the season at Daytona and Sebring.
Katherine Legge, No. 88 Richard Mille/Champion Porsche 911 GT3 R: “I’m really proud of the whole crew at Team Hardpoint EBM and this Richard Mille/Champion Porsche team. We worked really hard all week to make this car better and at the end we felt we deserved a podium, it just wasn’t meant to be. But our program is all about perseverance and we have a lot to build on moving forward. Christina and Bia did fantastic in their stints and our Porsche was really quick at the end of the race.”
Bia Figueiredo, No. 88 Richard Mille/Champion Porsche 911 GT3 R: “First of all, I’m super thankful to Team Hardpoint EBM, Katherine and Christina for inviting me to this race. I took last year off becoming a mom, and having a chance to come back here, I love this series. I was wondering if I was going to be slower after becoming a mom, and there’s no difference at all! I had a lot of fun and the performance was there. We struggled in practice to get up to speed and find a setup, even in qualifying, so if you’d have told me yesterday we’d finish in the top five, that’s mega. We could visualize the podium, but five seconds later the drive-through message came through and disappointed all of us. There’s not much we can do about that, but I’m very thankful for the crew for all of their hard work. It was great. I’m super happy an thankful for our performance this weekend.”
Christina Nielsen, No. 88 Richard Mille/Champion Porsche 911 GT3 R: “We had a good car for the night, which gave Kat and opportunity to fight for the podium. It was a little bit more challenging during the day, but that’s the Porsche. It’s got to come to you and it did. It was nice to see that our engineers were on board with the setup there. It was just a great job by Team Hardpoint EBM and my teammates Katherine and Bia. It’s been a pleasure working with everyone and I think considering how short of a time we had to gel together I think it was quite impressive. This last moment unfortunately defines the final results, but I don’t want that to be the one thing that takes away all the good stuff that we produced.”
Earl Bamber, No. 99 GridRival Porsche 911 GT3 R: “We had a tough week. We had damage in practice and we were recovering from that. We had a quick car, Rob was doing a fantastic job and was one of the quickest cars on track at the time. His incident set us back and we were trying to recover with a damaged car and I got caught up with another guy. That was sort of our day. It was awesome for the 88 to be fighting there for a podium at the end of the day. It’s the closest we’ve come. We’re still building and learning as a team and we’ve got a long way to go, but I think it’s positive.”
Trenton Estep, No. 99 GridRival Porsche 911 GT3 R: “All in all, it was a great weekend. These guys at Team Hardpoint EBM are unbelievable and they’ve given me this opportunity to drive this awesome Porsche. Granted, we didn’t have the best of luck on our side this weekend, but I had fun and my stints were clean. Thankfully I didn’t get into too much trouble. I learned a lot throughout the whole experience and it was a good weekend.”
Rob Ferriol, No. 99 GridRival Porsche 911 GT3 R: “The name of the game in all of these long races is perseverance. I give immense credit to the 88 car. Kat, Christina and Bia drove a phenomenal race with no mistakes, kept their heads down and kept pushing. To see them bring home a top five finish is really cool for me personally, I’m proud of all of them. I think there was a podium there. They can stand proud. I have to give all the rest of the credit to the crew on our 99 car. Earl and I didn’t make their lives very easy today. They had to put the car back together a couple of times, and finally one big time. All that said, to still be able to come home P10, finish the race, take the checker and see the guys proud of their work and that car coming home, that’ll have to be enough for us until Mid-Ohio.”
About Team Hardpoint EBM:
Hardpoint Motorsports was founded by Rob Ferriol in 2018 with the vision of combining his experience as a successful entrepreneur with his passion for racing. Team Hardpoint EBM is a joint venture between Team Hardpoint and Earl Bamber Motorsport formed in late 2020 to combine the resources of EBM and co-owners Earl Bamber and Will Bamber and the early success of Team Hardpoint. Headquartered at VIRginia International Raceway, the team’s 2021 plans include a full-season effort in the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship in a Porsche 911 GT3 R and a multi-car effort in the IMSA Porsche Carrera Cup North America. More information on Team Hardpoint EBM can be found at www.hardpoint.com or through its strong social media presence on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.