Sebring: Porsche race report

PORSCHE WINS SEBRING OVERALL FOR 18TH TIME; DUMAS, BERNHARD, COLLARD TAKE VICTORY IN 12 HOUR RACE IN PENSKE PORSCHE RS SPYDER --Porsche also wins GT2 Class with one-two finish from the updated Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs with...

PORSCHE WINS SEBRING OVERALL FOR 18TH TIME; DUMAS, BERNHARD, COLLARD TAKE VICTORY IN 12 HOUR RACE IN PENSKE PORSCHE RS SPYDER

--Porsche also wins GT2 Class with one-two finish from the updated Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs with Bergmeister, Henzler and Lieb; Dyson Racing Posche RS Spyders finish second and third in LMP2 to complete class podium sweep--

SEBRING, Florida -- March 16 -- Porsche, the most storied name in the history of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring -- America's oldest sports car race -- added to its legacy Saturday with a double victory at the 3.7-miles airport course in Central Florida.

Scoring its 18th overall win (Ferrari is second with 12 overall victories), Porsche combined with another classic name in motorsports -- Penske Racing -- as Romain Dumas (France), Timo Bernhard (Germany), and Emmanuel Collard (France) piloted their 3.4-liter, V8 Penske Porsche RS Spyder to a one-minute victory over the Dyson Racing Porsche RS Spyder of Butch Leitzinger (USA), Marino Franchitti (Scotland), and Andy Lally (USA). Third overall, and first in the more powerful LMP1 class, was the Audi R10/TDI of Capello/McNish/Kristensen.

The Dyson Racing team Porsche of Chris Dyson (USA) and Guy Smith (England) finished fourth (third in the LMP2 class) after the Fernandez/Diaz Acura crossed the finish line second, but was excluded for failing the sanctioning body's "stall" test in post-race inspection.

Bernhard and Dumas won 11 of the 12 LMP2 class contests in 2007 en route to last year's title, including six races overall.

"This is a great win for Porsche Motorsport and Penske Racing," said Tim Cindric, president of Penske Racing.

"To win the Daytona 500 and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring within four weeks is a tremendous accomplishment for our entire organization, and we are proud of hard work of drivers, crew, engineers and shop employees that contributed to these wins. This is the toughest road race of the year, and we had not won it on our previous two attempts, so this victory is extra special," said Cindric.

The Porsche RS Spyder now has either a class win or an overall victory (or both) at every American Le Mans Series venue since the car debuted in October, 2005.

"The race presented many challenges for both drivers and crew as we always had to decide between conserving fuel and maintaining a pre-determined pace, and charging ahead to catch up or extend a lead. Sometimes those situations changed from lap to lap, but Penske Racing was up to the strategy solutions, and my driving partners Dumas and Collard did their part on the track," said Bernhard, who has entered Sebring seven times in GT2 and LMP2, and had only won a single time.

The team Penske Porsche of Patrick Long (USA), Sascha Maassen (Germany), and Ryan Briscoe (Australia) was running in the top three early in the event, but a broken water pump lead to overheating, forcing the car out of the race. It was the first time since its debut in 2005 that an RS Spyder did not finish a race due to mechanical failure.

Fifth in LMP2 was the Swiss-based Horag Racing Porsche RS Spyder of Fredy Leinhard (Switzerland), Didier Theys (USA) and Jan Lammers (The Netherlands), in the debut of their entry, which will run the Le Mans Series in Europe this year. The car ran consistently in the top six for the whole event, and might have finished higher had Theys been able to avoid an accident that put the car into the garage for 30 minutes for repair.

The Butch Leitzinger, Marino Franchitti, and Andy Lally RS Spyder led the race several times during the last hour, and looked like they might be in position to win the event overall as the Penske car, the Acura, and Audi all had to stop for fuel and Leitzinger was set to go the distance. But the heavy car due to a full load of fuel, and an exceptionally fast splash-and-go stop from Penske Racing sent Dumas on to victory. Still, second and third in class, with the extra bonus points awarded for the long Sebring event, put the Dyson drivers in good shape for the season-long points chase.

In the GT2 class, Porsche debuted its updated version of the GT3 RSR with great success, with the Flying Lizard Motorsports team taking the top two class honors. The #45 Porsche of Joerg Bergmeister (Germany), Marc Lieb (Germany) and Wolf Henzler (Germany) took the lead a third of the way through the event and ran a perfect event for the rest of the 12-hour race. A crash between the leading Ferrari and the second-place Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Dirk Werner (Germany), Bryce Miller (USA) and Marc Basseng (Germany) put both cars out, ending a promising run for Farnbacher Loles and its new 911. Once the Ferrari was out, the Lizard car took the lead and was never headed.

"The Lizards have finished second in GT2 at Sebring two years in a row, but it did not deter this team from putting forth a superior effort to win this race, and today we've done it," said Marc Lieb, Porsche factory driver who has joined the team for long races over the years.

"This was not only great for team principal Seth Neiman and the entire Lizard organization, but for the updated version of the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR and all the engineers at Porsche in Weissach who worked so hard to improve this car over the winter. A combination of small improvements such as front-end aerodynamics and a light gearbox gave us the edge we needed to stay with the Ferraris, and to triumph in the end," said Lieb.

The team Lizard Porsche of Seth Neiman (USA), Darren Law (USA) and Alex Davison (Australia), finished second, giving the team a jump-start toward the 2008 GT2 Championship, especially with the leading Ferrari scoring no points at the event. It was also the team's first one-two finish in the American Le Mans Series.

The third Flying Lizard Porsche, driven by Patrick Pilet (France), Johannes van Overbeek (USA), and Richard Lietz (Germany), was hit by one of the Audis only 30 minutes into the race, causing a broken axle, rear bodywork and upper suspension damage. The Porsche got back in the race, and ran well for the rest of the event, but the 34 laps they lost in the garage area relegated them to an eighth-place finish. The Audi driver was assessed a stop-and-go penalty, and fined for avoidable contact.

The German-based VICI Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, with Uwe Alzen (Germany), Craig Stanton (USA) and Nathan Swartzbaugh (USA) aboard, ran in third and fourth place during the latter stages of the event until a broken half-shaft pushed them down in the standings to sixth in class.

-credit: porsche motorsports

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Jan Lammers , Guy Smith , Butch Leitzinger , Didier Theys , Emmanuel Collard , Sascha Maassen , Uwe Alzen , Andy Lally , Darren Law , Timo Bernhard , Patrick Long , Marino Franchitti , Johannes van Overbeek , Ryan Briscoe , Marc Lieb , Craig Stanton , Romain Dumas , Seth Neiman , Wolf Henzler , Patrick Pilet , Marc Basseng , Dirk Werner , Nathan Swartzbaugh , Richard Lietz , Chris Dyson , Bryce Miller
Teams Team Penske , Dyson Racing , Flying Lizard Motorsports