Sebring 12 Hours
ILMC (1/7) 12 HOURS OF SEBRING RACE: 12 HOURS FULL OF VALUABLE LESSONS
With the Peugeot no.8 taking third and the no.7 car finishing eighth, both Team Peugeot Total cars completed this demanding edition of the 12 Hours of Sebring. The entire team was therefore able to pursue preparations for the upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans, already displaying both good levels of performance, especially seen in taking pole position, and reliability.
On Saturday morning, in front of a very noisy, passionate Sebring crowd, the two Peugeot 908s dominated proceedings at the start of the race. Onboard the no.8 car, Franck Montagny made the most of his pole position to head into the first turn in front, while Marc Gené wasted no time taking his no.7 car from third on the grid into second place. Although the two official Peugeots appeared at this stage to the quickest on the track, a series of safety car periods prevented them from building up any sort of real lead.
The no.7 car’s chances of victory evaporated when Marc Gené and Dindo Capello, then fighting it out for second position, came together during a restart just before the race’s five-hour mark. The car was forced to come in to the pits to change the front left half-axle and the clutch, losing the driver team of Marc Gené, Anthony Davidson and Alexander Wurz around twenty laps in the process. “I was level with Dindo Capello”, commented Marc Gené. “I braked fairly late, and we ended up turning into the corner at the same time and coming together. It was a real shame because our car was handling very well”.
A great day’s work!
It was then left to the Peugeot no.8, driven by Franck Montagny, Stéphane Sarrazin and Pedro Lamy, Team Oreca’s Peugeot 908 HDi FAP (Lapierre-Duval-Panis) and the Honda ARX no.01 (Pagenaud- Brabham-Franchitti) to battle it out to win the race. Time and again, the three cars continued to race on the same lap. The standings changed each time the cars came into the pits and during safety car periods.
A changed front hood (broken radiator shutter), after just over nine hours of racing cost the Peugeot no.8 some precious seconds. Franck Montagny, the last driver to take his turn in this brand new car, finished very strongly and crossed the line in third place, on the same lap as the winner, Team Oreca’s Peugeot 908 HDi FAP. “I pushed very hard at the end to try and steal second place. We ended up just six seconds adrift of second spot”, commented Franck after the race. "The car withstood the conditions and ran well for 12 hours. Although we missed out on the win today, that was largely down to racing incidents.”
“More than the actual result, we’re really pleased to have both cars complete the race”, analysed Olivier Quesnel, Peugeot Sport Director. “We didn’t have any technical problems, which is extremely satisfying for this new car’s first race. Our driver teams performed well, the cars were reliable and the entire Team Peugeot Total reacted perfectly when faced with the various situations that arose during the 12 hours of racing. We came here to prepare for Le Mans, and we have done just that. We have also picked up a lot of points for the ILMC and head the constructors’ standings. Our heartfelt congratulations go to Team Oreca on their win with the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP. They produced a faultless performance and proved once again the efficiency and reliability of this car. It’s a Peugeot that has won again today.”
For Bruno Famin, Peugeot Sport’s Technical Director, today’s race was encouraging for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. “We explored lots of things throughout the week, and we obtained a lot of important information from the race. It was hot, there were a lot of cars on track and the surface is tricky. We tried different tyre compounds, depending on the conditions, and various set-ups. We have shown good potential and had a higher level of reliability than we had hoped for. It’s just rewards for the entire team to see both cars cross the finish line. All of this information will be useful in June.”
Preparations for June’s race are set to continue on 24 April, with the 24 Hours of Le Mans test day, when the Peugeot 908 will experience this very special and very long – at over 13 kilometres – track for the first time.