The 2007 American Le Mans Series was a magical one for Penske Racing. The 2008 season may be even better if Saturday was any indication. Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Emmanuel Collard drove to an historic overall win at the 56th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
The win was the first overall at Sebring by an LMP2 car and saw 27 overall lead changes, a race record, and three lead-lap finishers, tying a race record. Dumas took the chequered flag by 1m 02.084s over Dyson Racing's trio of Butch Leitzinger, Marino Franchitti and Andy Wallace in their Porsche RS Spyder. The Audi Sport North America trio of Dindo Capello, Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen finished third overall and first in LMP1.
Third in P2 class and fourth overall was the second Dyson Porsche of Chris Dyson and Guy Smith as the P2 class took three of the top four spots.
The overall win for Porsche was its first since 1988 when Hans Stuck and Klaus Ludwig took victory in a Porsche 962. Roger Penske took his first win at Sebring in 40 years and became the first team owner to win overall at Sebring, the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500.
"I have to say thank you to Team Penske because they did a great job today," said Bernhard, who also won the 2004 race in GT. "The strategy was really good and we had no problem with the RS Spyder. We were a perfect trio today and it was very important that the whole package was working."
Collard also won for the second time at Sebring, and Dumas was a first-time winner. The trio ran a smart, consistent race and watched their toughest challengers all fall by the wayside. They led seven times for 144 laps including Dumas' final 31 to the end.
"The key today is that we ran without a problem - gearbox, engine and race strategy," Collard said. "That's why we won this race."
Bernhard and Dumas won six overall races in 2007 with two more LMP2 victories en route to capturing the class championship.
"We were on the lead lap late and thinking, 'Why not win?'" Dumas said. "The Acuras are very strong, just like they were a few weeks ago. Their car was very quick and we saw that again. Today was something special. I think we will have a great championship. Today was just exceptional and I think the season will be. It will be very difficult to win so many races overall (as last year). I'm quite sure about that."
Audi's streak of consecutive overall wins at Sebring ended at eight although it extended its Series record of consecutive class wins to 23.