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Peugeot secures Sebring 1-2

21 March 2010

Alexander Wurz's out lap after his final stop was quick enough to allow the #7 Peugeot 908 HDi he shared with Marc Gene and Anthony Davidson to secure victory in the Sebring Twelve Hours – edging ahead of the sister car following that final stop as the French marque secured a 1-2 finish in the ALMS season opener.

Sebastien Bourdais, Nic Minassian and Pedro Lamy were second as Peugeot added the Sebring title to its trophy cabinet, which already includes the Le Mans 24 Hours crown and the Petit Le Mans title.

Peugeot had topped every session during the week with its diesel powered cars and emerged as the dominant victors, although sportscar veteran Emanuele Pirro produced a stunning start to the race for the Drayson Racing Lola as he managed to split the Peugeots and run as high as second. Unfortunately the car would drop back with a number of issues as the race wore on.

Those issues left Peugeot's two cars to battle for victory, with the #7 beating the #8 to the flag by just under 14 seconds.

“We pushed, everyone was 100 per cent,” said Wurz. “The strategy people had smoke coming out of their ears. It was down to three seconds (the margin) for the last stop. It came down to Sebastian and myself.”

Adrian Fernandez, Harold Primat and Stefan Mücke took third in the Lola-Aston Martin, which was making its first start in the event. The Drayson car ultimately finished twelfth overall but there was heartache for the Autocon team, which was excluded from the race after failing to get its car running on track within an hour of the start. The team had been forced to work on an engine change and just missed getting its car into the race.

Greg Pickett, Klaus Graf and Sascha Maassen won LMP2 for Muscle Milk Team CytoSport, taking fourth overall. The Porsche RS Spyder won by three laps over the Patron Highcroft Racing HPD ARX-01c, which led until an electrical problem with less than four hours to go set them back.

It marked Porsche's second Sebring class victory for the RS Spyder, which made its first Twelve Hours start in 2006. Penske Racing won overall in 2008, and Saturday's win by CytoSport was the first time an independent team won in North America with the prototype.

“I really like this magnificent machine,” Pickett said. “You expect that from Porsche. We were glad to run with the Michelin tyres this year, and I'm tickled we could double and triple stint them. I'm 63 now; to do this at this level of competition… my team-mates did the heavy lifting. They let me get in a little bit. It was a wonderful adventure. We do this for fun, the better we do it, the more fun we have.”

The Patron Highcroft car of David Brabham, Simon Pagenaud and Marino Franchitti had dominated the opening two-thirds of the race and led by five laps when the electrical issues appeared. Graf kept ticking off lap after lap while the helpless Highcroft car sat still in pitlane, with the issue ultimately costing the defending champions victory.

Chris Dyson, Guy Smith and Andy Meyrick placed third in class with their isobutanol-powered Lola B09/86-Mazda. The car experienced electrical sensor issues early and was well down the overall order as a result.

Risi Competizione won in GT2, the team's sixth straight victory in a major endurance race. Jaime Melo, Gimmi Bruni and Pierre Kaffer took a one-lap victory in their Ferrari F430 GT over BMW Rahal Letterman Racing's two BMW M3s, which swapped positions on the last turn of the last lap.

Risi now has won consecutively at Sebring, Le Mans and Petit Le Mans, etching even more history in the F430 GT.

“I think it's everything together,” said Melo. “The team is a very, very good team. With three drivers who are very consistent like Gimmi and Pierre… that's the way to win this kind of race. The Michelin tyres are very consistent and work well for us. The preparation of the car is the key to this race. I know the F430 from when we started developing the car. We want to put it in the history books, so we want to win this year so bad. We can send it off in a good way.”

The fight in GT2 was a fantastic scrap before attrition started to take its toll. Team Falken Tire led early on in its Porsche but had two wheels come off on consecutive laps. The second hit the then-second-place Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche, which lost three laps in the pits due to an issue with the Safety Car picking up the race leader – with the pits being closed until the leader had been picked up.

Corvette Racing's two Corvettes collided in pit lane when one Corvette C6.R tried to leave its pit box and another came in simultaneously – the uncharacteristic error costing the team its chance of victory as both cars were delayed due to the damage sustained.

In the new LMPC class, Level 5 Motorsports trio Scott Tucker, Christophe Bouchut and Mark Wilkins won handily with their ORECA FLM09 prototype. They won by 16 laps over the Green Earth Team Gunnar trio of Gunnar Jeannette, Christian Zugel and Elton Julian which was delayed by issues during the race. Genoa Racing's Andy Wallace, JR Hildebrand and Tom Sutherland placed third in class.

Alex Job Racing made a triumphant return to the Series with a sweep of the GT Challenge podium. Butch Leitzinger, Juan Gonzalez and Leh Keen won by three laps over the sister car of Bill Sweedler, Romeo Kapudija and Jan-Dirk Lueders.

The Peugeot prototype of Bourdais, Minassian and Lamy were prototype winners in the MICHELIN GREEN X Challenge, with the Flying Lizard Motorsports' trio of Seth Neiman, Darren Law and Richard Lietz the GT winners. The award goes to the prototype and GT entry in each class that goes the farthest, the fastest and with the smallest amount of environmental impact.


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