Peugeot won again at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring after Team ORECA Matmut secured victory in the opening round of both the American Le Mans Series and the new Intercontinental Le Mans Cup.
Loic Duval took the chequered flag by 31.868 seconds in his Peugeot 908 HDi FAP ahead Highcroft Racing's Simon Pagenaud in a classic fight that saw the top three cars finish on the lead lap.
Duval, who won with Nicolas Lapierre and Olivier Panis, took a late splash of fuel to ensure he could make it to the end of the race to take victory in the first race of the ILMC season.
“It was strategy to make the splash,” Duval said. “After that, the car was perfect and I was able to keep the gap between us. I think we didn't expect to be in this position. We were building and building and at the end the car was perfect."
Team owner and ORECA founder Hugues de Chaunac was in tears during the final lap – ones of joy. This was the first time he brought his team to Sebring since sweeping the GTS podium in 2000 with the factory Dodge Viper programme.
“It's a historic result for us,” de Chaunac said. “It's a race that we built step by step. We finished just in front of the manufacturers. We avoided any mistakes. It was a perfect job from the team and these three drivers. It was not easy because I asked them to be quick and patient. We won because we did not make any mistakes.
Pagenaud, David Brabham and Marino Franchitti drove Highcroft's HPD ARX-01e for the first time this week and appeared on the verge of its first Sebring victory. But Pagenaud finished second, and held off the highest-finishing Peugeot 908 factory entry of Franck Montagny, Stephane Sarrazin and Pedro Lamy.
The other factory Peugeot was involved in an early-race crash with the #2 Audi R15 Plus prototype at Turn 17 that effectively ended both cars' chance at winning. The #1 Audi lost two left-rear tyres on consecutive laps earlier.
BMW Motorsport won a hard-fought GT battle for the manufacturer's first win at Sebring since 1999 when it took an overall victory. Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Andy Priaulx led a 1-2 finish in class for the German marque, which won the GT team and manufacturer championships in 2010.