Werner leads at halfway mark at Sebring

Audi's Marco Werner has taken control of the 56th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, leading at the halfway mark of the race. The No. 2 Audi R10 TDI holds a 30 second lead over the sister No. 1 Audi of Dindo Capello, with LM P2 class leader Emmanuel...

Audi's Marco Werner has taken control of the 56th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, leading at the halfway mark of the race. The No. 2 Audi R10 TDI holds a 30 second lead over the sister No. 1 Audi of Dindo Capello, with LM P2 class leader Emmanuel Collard running in third overall.

Things have gone from bad to worse for Peugeot. After losing three laps due to hydraulic issues in the second hour, the French diesel was pulled to the garage at the four-hour mark to replace the hydraulic pump.

"It's very tough and we have to change the pump with the hydraulics," Peugeot Sport director Michel Barge said. "We changed some parts [on pit lane], but that wasn't the problem. So now we'll change the pump."

Forty-five minutes later, Stephane Sarrazin returned, but 25 laps down and now out of contention for the overall win. He also lost third in the LM P1 class to the Intersport Racing Lola, behind the two leading Audis.

The running order in LM GT2 was turned upside down in the fifth hour. After racing unopposed for much of the race, Jamie Melo, who was driving the then class-leading Risi Competizione Ferrari, collided with the second-placed Farnbacher Loles Porsche of Dirk Werner, whom was about to go down a lap. Melo dived to the inside of traffic heading into the hairpin Turn 7, locking up his brakes and ramming into Werner. Both cars retired due to suspension damage.

"I went into the hairpin and it was a big mess, with lots of cars," Melo explained. "To avoid it, I went on the inside line and could not stop because I was on the grass. I hit the No. 87 Porsche. I could say it was my fault and I'm very, very sorry for everyone involved."

Werner said: I'm so sad right now. I drove to turn 7 and the Ferrari was really close because the track had just gone green. We couldn't drive really fast, we were just cruising around and waiting until the track was clear. Then the car crashed into me and broke something on the suspension so I couldn't steer any more.

"I tried to go back to the pits, but I couldn't steer the car and I was afraid I would cross the track at a certain point. Then the engine temperature went high, so I had no chance to get back to the pits. That's really the worst thing that could happen. We were running so great. It's pretty sad for everybody who is involved. All the work they've done to prepare the car is destroyed now."

This incident gave the No. 45 Porsche of Wolf Henzler the class lead, putting Flying Lizard Motorsports in a 1-2 at the midpoint of the race. VICI Racing's Porsche runs third in class.

The No. 7 Penske Racing Porsche RS Spyder of Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Emmanuel Collard leads P2, with Dyson Racing's No. 16 RS Spyder of Chris Dyson and Guy Smith second in class, fourth overall. The Andretti Green Racing Acura runs in third, still on the same lap to the two leading P2 machines.

The LM GT1 category has been dominated so far by the No. 3 Corvette of Jan Magnussen, Johnny O'Connell and Ron Fellows. Running 9th overall, the trio hold a comfortable 10-lap lead over the sister No. 4 machine, which spent time in the garage with drivetrain issues. The Bell Motorsports Aston Martin has slipped down the running order due to brake problems.

Two other incidents slowed the pace for a considerable amount of time. First it was Jean-Christophe Ravier in the Barazi-Epsilon Zytek, who slammed into the Turn 11 barriers three hours in, bringing out the third yellow. Ravier was reported to have pain in his shoulder and is being transferred to a local hospital for observation. This incident kept the field behind the safety car for 30 minutes while repairs were made to the barriers.

The fourth caution was for Didier Theys, who backed his Horag Racing Porsche into the barriers in Turn 4 with four and a half hours complete. The crew replaced the rear wing and rear bodywork assembly on the RS Spyder. However, the yellow lasted close to an hour as IMSA sorted out the running order.

Penske Racing's No. 6 Porsche became the first official retirement of the race because of overheating issues. Another car succumbing to the high temperatures is the LG Motorsports Riley Corvette, and gearbox troubles have brought Drayson-Barwell's debut run in the series to a premature end.

A statement was released regarding the hour one incident involving the No. 1 Audi and No. 46 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche. Tim Mayer, IMSA's new race director, issued further penalties for the previous incident. The stewards reviewed the incident following the request of the race director. The following penalties have been announced:

"The entrant is warned that any additional avoidable contact by either of its cars in the remainder of the Sebring event may warrant more severe penalties."

"The entrant is placed on probation for the next two Series' events regarding avoidable contact incidents involving either of its cars."

"The driver of the No. 1 car, Dindo Capello, will be fined by the Stewards in an amount to be determined after the Sebring event."

Motorsport.com will have continuing coverage at the nine-hour mark.

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Guy Smith , Didier Theys , Ron Fellows , Johnny O'Connell , Emmanuel Collard , Stéphane Sarrazin , Timo Bernhard , Marco Werner , Romain Dumas , Jean-Christophe Ravier , Wolf Henzler , Dirk Werner , Dindo Capello , Michel Barge
Teams Team Penske , LG Motorsports , Risi Competizione , Dyson Racing , Flying Lizard Motorsports