American Le Mans Series

12 Hours Of Sebring: Half Time Report

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At the half way point of the 12 Hours of Sebring the race has been dominated by the pair of Peugeot 908 HDi FAP diesels, who hold the overall 1-2 three laps clear of their nearest challenger.

The pair of coupes led from the green flag, the pole sitting no.07 car in the hands of Alex Wurz leading into the courses' sweeping left hander ahead of their no.08 stablemate. However, the French cars were not as dominant as expected in the early stages, Emaneule Pirro in the Drayson Racing Lola-Judd first passing the Aston Martin before passing Nicolas Minassian in the no.08 Peugeot in spectacular style.

As the three leading prototypes approached Sebring's turn seven hairpin deep in the traffic of the leaders of the GT2 category Minassian went to pass the leading Flying Lizard and Falken Tire Porsches on the outside. Meanwhile, Pirro scythed across the nose of Gianmaria Bruni in the Risi Competizione Ferrari, third in GT2 at the time, cutting to the inside for the braking zone for the tight right hander.

That over proved decisive in the GT2 battle too, with Wolf Henzler in Falken Tire Porsche forced wide by the sudden appearance of Drayson Lola the Flying Lizard car was able to drive around the outside, perhaps aided by the Falken rubber starting to wear and the attention Bruni was paying to the rear bumper of Henzler's car.

On the other hand the opening hour also saw the first gremlins for many. The race was barely 10 laps old when the JaguarRSR entry stopped in the pitlane, a shameful puddle appearing underneath the car as the cooling problems of qualifying returned in even more serious fashion. It was to be the first of a number of pitstops as the team chased the cause of the troubles, only to adit defeat and retire, only credited with ten laps.

There were also problems for the Isobutanol-fuelled Dyson Racing Lola-Mazda at almost exactly the same time as the Jaguar's first stop. With driver Chris Dyson complaining of problems the car made the turn behind the pit wall into the tented village of the paddock, for repairs that would include an oil pump change.

However, their maladies were nothing compared to the woes of the Autocon P1 team. After suffering an engine problem in the warm-up the tea were forced to carry out a engine change, a feat they were unable to complete before the first hour of the race had ticked by, crucially ruling the team out of the race before even taking to the track.

The opening hours also saw the first, and so far only yellow flag, the Primetime Race Group's LMPC car sliding into the tyre barriers at turn 3, suffering front suspension damage in the process.

At the head of the class the two Level 5 entries had made their way past the pole sitting Green Earth Team Gunnar car, and were running close together, at one point Christophe Bouchut appearing to push Ryan Huner-Reay onto the grass, the American being far less than complimentary of Bouchut when he finished his stint in the car.

However, the big story of the first half of the race was Corvette Racing. In the fourth hour Jan Magnussen in the no.3 cars was exiting the pits, just as Emmanuel Collard was entering. Heavy contact ensued as mechanics fled for cover, the no.4 slamming into Magnussen's car just behind the left-front wheel.

Collard stopped in the pit's the team pouring over the front bodywork, before it made the turn into the garage for further work. The no.3 made a single lap, smoking as the damaged bodywork destroyed the tyre, returning for repairs and checks.

Both cars returned to race, though down on their positions in the top three before the accident.

After six hours the no.62 Risi Ferrari heads the GT2 class, with the no.92 BMW and no.45 Flying Lizard Porsche in close attendance, the Corvettes tenth and twelfth in class.

In the GTC class the race has belonged to the no.81 Alex Job Racing car of Leh Keen, Juan Gonzalez and Butch Leitzinger who have led nearly the entire race and have a two lap lead over their nearest rival in the spec-car class.

Just as dominant as Patron Highcroft, sitting fourth overall, three laps clear of the Cytosport Porsche Spyder, both ahead of the Drayson Racing car, who, after Pirro's barnstorming opening stint have suffered a number of set backs. First the car having to slow doe to lack of fuel with Jonny Cocker at the wheel, only to close on the back of the third placed Aston Martin before alternator and battery issues forced the team into a long stop.

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  • Vince Pettit

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