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Sebring Returns to Derby!

Dunk’s Dealership Again the Place to Be On Sebring Night

For the second year running, 50 sportscar enthusiasts got together at the Derby Aston Martin dealership to celebrate the event that many consider the true start to the season. After the success of last year, Paul and Julie Dunk decided to host the event again due to popular demand.

There is no doubt that once again, the pair out-did themselves to create an immensely enjoyable private function for fans from across the country to watch the 61st running of the Sebring 12 Hours.

People started arriving about an hour or so before the build up to the race started, and were once again greeted in the showroom by a gorgeous piece of Aston Martin Racing history, amongst the many road built British supercars on display.

After seeing last year’s centrepiece for the event, the beautiful #114 V12 Aston Martin Zagato, which competed in the Nurburgring 24 Hours as well as selected regular VLN rounds, many thought it would be extremely difficult to top. However, Paul managed to prove us wrong, as he watched everyone’s eyes light up at their first glimpse of the machinery they would be accompanied by to watch this year’s race.

This head turning sky blue and burnt orange V8 Vantage GTE (GT2/009 chassis) was originally the #60 Gulf AMR Middle East Racing ILMC GTE AM entry from 2011, driven by Mike Wainwright, Roald Goethe and Fabien Giroix. It was also the #98 Aston Martin Racing WEC GTE AM entry at the Silverstone WEC round last September, piloted by Roald Goethe and Stuart Hall.

Here though, it is liveried as this year’s #97 GTE PRO WEC challenger as it readies itself for the WEC launch in London later this month (even though it’s still in last season’s AM spec, shhhh.....).

While trying to haggle a DSC road test of this beast, I sadly had my hopes and dreams flattened by Mr Dunk who rightly pointed out that, “It has no seat, or engine, so you may have to push it round the block; good luck!” (face, meet palm).

There was also another interesting vehicle on display in the room; namely a V8 Vantage stickered up for Le Mans a little early, showcasing some comical Radio Le Mans stickers amongst other things, courtesy of stickers4.com.

So as the last guests arrived, the build up to the race truly started, with the dulcet tones of John Hindhaugh and Jeremy Shaw on the Speed TV broadcast, who immediately got us all in the mood to watch some high performance sportscar action. The cinematic effect was courtesy of a humongous 65” Panasonic TV and meaty speaker system, provided by local specialists D & C Sound and Vision.

As the race started there was some initial cheering as the #97 Aston Martin took the lead of the GT class, but it was sadly short lived as both Aston entries hit trouble in the early stages, effectively ending their chances of silverware.

Another setback for many was England getting hammered by Wales in the Six Nations rugby game, which was shown during the Motors TV three hour interval. You will be pleased to know though, that the DSC contingent present - Mark Howson and I - as well as a few select fans, continued to watch the race during this period on an emergency iPad stream at the back of the room.

We all did find enjoyment during this time though, in the form of stuffing our face with some burgers, sausages and chilli provided by the crack team of AMR chef’s, who valiantly stood out in the cold, wet weather to cook up a storm.

After the rugby was over we were all humbled, not by the result of the game, but by the speech given by Paul Havell from Mission Motorsport, this year’s featured charity. He talked to us about the various initiatives which Mission Motorsport have been involved with in their one year existence, and made us all realise more than ever, the importance of rehabilitation for our ex-servicemen.

Aside from raising awareness of Mission Motorsport, Paul Dunk organised various activities for us all to join in with to raise some money for the charity. There was a silent auction, a sweepstake and a raffle, which created controversy amongst the guests.

Pictured, is DSC’s own alleged fraudster and UK editor Mark (one year after winning a shirt in the 2012 raffle), who not only won a ticket to the WEC at Silverstone, which he doesn’t need (so he put it back in the draw), but also a flag signed by the factory Audi drivers at last year’s Le Mans 24 Hours. In case you were wondering, he was widely boo-ed as he collected his prize (swag). Other raffle prizes included a signed pair of  Guy Smith racing gloves and a bespoke #Sebring12UK cake.

The anger amongst everyone has however been short lived, as we collectively managed to raise a whopping, £1000 for Mission Motorsport!

As darkness fell on the venue, the race continued to entertain us with the battles for the lead in each class which carried on right up until the chequered flag fell. John Hindhaugh giving us all a wave on the ALMS.com snoop cam and the hearty butternut squash & carrot soup Paul and Julie served for dinner were also memorable highlights of the evening.

An eruption of applause from all of us marked the end of the race and event at the ungodly time of 2:45am. We were all sad to leave, but as most of us rightly know, it’s only the equivalent of half the big race in June, which I’m sure we are all now very much anticipating.

A big shout out definitely goes to Paul and Julie Dunk for once again organising such an amazing event, I’m sure many of this year’s lucky guests will be eagerly anticipating next year’s #Sebring12UK, so we can do it all again.

If you too want to help out Mission Motorsport, you can do so by logging onto http://www.missionmotorsport.org/ to find out more about opportunities to volunteer, fundraise and donate.

Stephen Kilbey