Peugeot, Highcroft Pick Up Where They Left Off At Sebring

by James Broomhead

Peugeot and Patron Highcroft started 2010 on a high topping the LMP1 and LMP2 classes respectively on the first day of official testing ahead of the 12 Hours of Sebring.

On Peugeot's return to America after winning Petit Le Mans last September it was Spaniard Marc Gene who recorded the fastest lap of the day aboard the no.07 908 HDi, despite never having driven at Sebring before the former F1 was able to better their teammates in the no.08 by 0.337 second, the no.08 with the more illustrious driving squad of Pedro Lamy, who turned the best lap, Sebastien Bourdais and Nicolas Minassian.

The pair of diesels were nearly three seconds clear of the nest best LMP1 car, the Lola-Judd of Drayson Racing, who suffered the mild indignity of being out-paced by the fastest LMP2 car as reigning champions Patron Highcroft Racing topped the class in their return to the class and the HPD ARX-01 chassis.

The team, which unites ALMS and Le Mans champion David Brabham with Simon Pagenaud and Marino Franchitti was a full 1.5 seconds than Klaus Graf in the Cytosport Porsche RS Spyder.

The GT Challenge class saw the no.23 car, perhaps the least likely of the three cars entered in the race by Alex Job Racing to do so, who topped the class, German Jan-Dirk Lueders' lap of 2:06.986 over a second faster the no.88 Velox Racing car.

However, it was far closer in the remaining two classes.

Five of the six LMP Challenge cars were covered by little more than half a second. Perhaps unsurprisingly it was Andy Wallace, twice an overall winner at Sebring, who recorded the fastest lap among the spec ORECA FLM09-Chevrolet cars, lapping the 3.7mile circuit in 1:57.101, 0.153 seconds ahead of the eye-catching no.99 of Green Earth Team Gunnar.

It was similarly close in the super-competitive GT2 class, where Corvette Racing drew first blood by taking a 1-2. Jan Magnussen, a man who ended the 2009 season against a wall at Laguna Seca, leading in the no.3 car ahead of the no.4 car of the familiar Corvette 'Oli's' line-up with new recruit Emmanuel Collard.

Reigning race champions Risi Competizione were third fastest, with Pierre Kaffer – who is only with the team on a limited schedule this year – recording a lap of 2:02.268, only four-tenths behind Magnussen and one-tenth ahead of the Team Falken Tire Porsche in fourth as the two five cars squeezed into 0.629 seconds.

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