Despite a number of issues, most notably one of fuel capacity, the Multimatic Mustangs finished P9 and P11, securing valuable championship points.
The Mustangs were at an obvious pace disadvantage to the Camaros and to a lesser extent the Porsche and Nissans at the 3.74 mile historic airfield circuit. On top of a noticeable power deficit, gear ratios in the CTSC are fixed and Sebring does not favour the Mustang in this respect. Practice saw the Multimatic cars consistently in the top 10, and the quickest of the Fords, but the team struggled to find the pace of the Z/28.Rs.
Johnson was best-of-the-rest in qualifying, setting a Q3 time, as the factory Stevenson Camaros easily locked up the front row. 16-year-old Austin Cindric amazingly qualified the #158 Q13 despite a wiring harness issue causing his car to run on seven cylinders.
Johnson wasted no time making a pass for P2 in the opening laps of the race but the Mustang simply did not have the pace and he was forced to put on an impressive display of defensive driving. Cindric surprised the entire field at the green flag, leap-frogging from P13 to P6 by the first corner.
The Multimatic pit-crew needed to be quick to help make up some of the on track disadvantage and the team delivered as both Mustangs jumped competitors in the lane on the first stop. Without a caution in the second half of the race the field was forced to pit under green. Both the #15 and #158 decided to gamble by coming in with the leaders, slightly too early to make it to the end on fuel, making a yellow crucial.
Maxwell took over from Johnson and proceeded to battle Mark Wilkins in the Mantella Autosport Camaro for P5 and Cindric handed the #158 off to co-driver Jade Buford who made a couple quick passes to move into P11. Unfortunately, a caution never came and both Mustangs were forced to stop in the final two laps for a splash.
The winning Camaro and the #13 Porsche pitted on the same lap as the #15 Mustang and both cars made it to the chequered flag without issue, underlining the disparity in the fuel capacity regulations.
Maxwell brought the #15 to the line in P9 and Buford finished P11 in the #158.
Maxwell and Johnson now sit in a tie for fifth in championship points and Buford and Cindric are seventh. The third round of the 2015 CTSC will take place at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on May 2.
Multimatic Motorsports Team Principal, Larry Holt, commented: "That is a race that I would like to forget. The points will be important later when we are a little racier and running the new car but Sebring has not been kind to us the past two years and I would rather have been somewhere else last Friday. Despite an obvious pace deficit our opening stint drivers put on a hell of a show. Austin's start was the highlight of our race and Billy drove the widest Mustang in history to hang on to a top three for so long."
"The first round pit stops were smoking fast and we grabbed spots back from the faster competitors, but in the end, once it went green for the final hour we didn't have a hope. I tried to mimic the Camaros on strategy but they have been oddly given one and half gallons more fuel capacity than us, due to the demands of their more powerful engine, and we came up short on distance needing a splash at the end while they easily made it to the end. Roll-on the debut of the GT350R."
FURTHER INFORMATION: Sean Mason or Stephen Charsley - Multimatic Motorsports