21 March 2010
Peugeot secures first Sebring victory
Peugeot wins the Sebring Twelve Hours for the first time with Marc Gene, Alex Wurz and Anthony Davidson winning the ALMS season opener
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.
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