Sebring, H+9 : Team ORECA-Matmut leads!
Fighting toe to toe with the No. 8 Peugeot 908 and No.01 Honda, the Team ORECA-Matmut took command of the lead at the start of the 10th hour.
Competitors at the 12 Hours of Sebring have completed three quarters of the distance. A fight for third place has broken out for first place, between the Team ORECA-Matmut Peugeot HDi FAP, the No. 8 Peugeot 908 and the No. 1 Honda. The two French prototypes are swapping the leading depending on pit stops and safety car periods: therefore strategy has been playing a vital role in the last several hours.
The drivers - Nicolas Lapierre, Loïc Duval et Olivier Panis – and the team continue their excellent performance: as the sun sets, and the tenth hour begins, they are in first place!
Nicolas Lapierre: “The car was really handling well during this last double stint. The temperatures are cooler now and I hope the balance of the car will stay as good as it has been. We’re playing a bit of a cat and mouse game with all of these safety car periods. When the yellow comes out, it’s frustrating: when we are able to make a gap, it’s then reduced to nothing. To each his turn. We were able to keep the lead despite keeping older tyres on, which was positive. If no one has problems, everything will play out in the last hour. We’ll have to go to war. For the moment, we must stay patien in traffic. We will take risks a little later…”
Race action. (from H+6 to H+9)
Third at half distance, Team ORECA-Matmut continued its flawless run at Sebring. Nicolas Lapierre, who got behind the wheel a little before the seventh hour, completed a double stint. He quickly reached second place, overtaking the No. 1 Honda, before reaching the No. 8 Peugeot. He closed the gap to within a few tenths of Franck Montagny. During a scheduled pit stop, the team opts not to change tyres. The safety car was deployed and thanks to good strategy, the No. 10 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP was in command of the 12 Hours of Sebring. The team would stay in first until the 199th lap, when in the eighth hour, Loic Duval takes over during a yellow flag driver change. He rejoined in third place, but wasted no time in passing the No. 1 Honda to regain second position. Meanwhile, the No. 8 Peugeot pits out of sequence and the Team ORECA-Matmut inherits the lead. Loic didn’t stop attacking and spreads the gap to his pursuants before pitting again. He rejoins the race less than ten seconds behind Stéphane Sarrazin, and more than twenty seconds ahead of David Brabham. After the pit stop, Loic is the new leader at the start of the tenth hour.
-source: team oreca-matmut