A promising one-two finish for Peugeot Team Peugeot Total made the trip to Florida with a view to preparing for June's Le Mans 24 Hours, and it will return home on Wednesday with plenty of valuable data in its computers, plus a landmark one-two...
A promising one-two finish for Peugeot
Team Peugeot Total made the trip to Florida with a view to preparing for June's Le Mans 24 Hours, and it will return home on Wednesday with plenty of valuable data in its computers, plus a landmark one-two finish in the race itself. In addition to securing its third consecutive one-two, the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP is the first French car to win at Sebring since the race was first held in 1952.
The No.07 car (Wurz/Gene/Davidson) finishes ahead of the No.08 sister car (Bourdais/Minassian/Lamy)
After starting the 12 Hours of Sebring from the front row of the grid, the two Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs were never separated by more than a handful of seconds, despite the searing heat, omnipresent traffic, safety car appearances and race incidents.
Nor were they slowed by the slightest mechanical problem, and the team will be looking to confirm the cars' reliability when it stays on for two more days of testing here in Florida on Monday and Tuesday. At the end of the day, all that split the two machines at the finish were a puncture, two spins and their respective pit stops. After 12 hours' racing, it was finally the No.07 Peugeot of Marc Gene, Alexander Wurz and Anthony Davidson which took the chequered flag in first place after 367 laps, closely tailed by the sister car in the hands of Sebastien Bourdais, Nicolas Minassian and Pedro Lamy. After the 2009 Le Mans and last autumn's Petit Le Mans, Sebring is Peugeot's third straight one-two finish. It is also the first win for a French car in the American classic and puts an end to 11 years of German domination of the race!
An action-packed race
Alexander Wurz started in the No.07 car running on soft tyres and succeeded in shrugging off the pressure of team-mate Sebastien Bourdais in the sister car which was on medium-compound rubber. Pirro managed to split the two Peugeots for a while in his Lola, and the enabled the No.08 to gain an advantage as it took control and covered two stints on the same set of tyres. The lead enjoyed by Bourdais/Lamy/Minassian was further extended when Anthony Davidson span shortly after the four-hour mark. The ground lost was recovered by the halfway point, however, with the pit-stop timing causing the two French machines to trade positions again. A further change in the order came when the No.08 car emerged in front after a refuelling stop. The drama continued on Lap 262 when the leading car fell back a place after picking up a rear-left puncture. This put the No.07 Peugeot back in front, and that's how the race ended, with the result pretty much sealed when Sebastien Bourdais span making a final bid in the last half-hour.
Great Britain's Davidson was the first driver to take the flag, sharing victory with his 2009 Le Manswinning team-mates Alexander Wurz and Sebring rookie Marc Gene. The crew of the No.08 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP crossed the line in its immediate wake to make it a one-two finish for the French make, while the day's fastest race lap was the work of Sebastien Bourdais.
Monday and Tuesday will see a car continue the team's endurance testing work at Sebring, with Marc Gene, Anthony Davidson and Simon Pagenaud all on duty.
Olivier QUESNEL: "Our mission here was to validate a certain number of developments and we achieved that goal to the letter. Despite the absence of our main rival, I believe we put on a great show and team orders were only issued after the final pit-stops, with half an hour remaining. It was quite tense, but also very instructive. Reliability promises to play a key role at Le Mans, and the two 908 HDi FAPs ran like clockwork here, and our refuelling work, race strategy and the work of the entire team were all very strong, too. We can be proud to have added a French victory to this race's roll of honour, and the 908 has now succeeded in winning all the main endurance races. It's a promising result, but we can't afford to take our eye off the ball..."
Anthony DAVIDSON: "This is a fantastic result for me and for Team Peugeot Total. I thoroughly enjoyed driving the 908! It was nice that the race turned out to be so close, and it's great to have marked my debut with the team with a win. I would like to thank everyone for their tremendous work."
Alexander WURZ: "Finishing first and second is a perfect result for Peugeot. The outcome was only really settled after the last round of pit-stops and we pushed hard throughout the race."
Marc GENE: "This was great practice ahead of Le Mans, both for the drivers and everyone in the team. It was good training for overtaking round what is a very demanding circuit..."