The no.8 Peugeot 908 leads the 12 Hours of Sebring at the half way point, the sole works diesel to survive the first six hours of the race with serious troubles.
The car, driven by Franck Montagny, Pedro Lamy and Stephane Sarrazin completed 157 lap in the six hours, leading the no.01 Highcroft Racing HPD by a matter of seconds – the petrol powered prototype's standing testemant to the troubles for the diesels. Oreca's older spec Peugeot lies third overall.
In GT, Risi Competzione lead an ever shifting field, ahead of both BMWs, the no.03 Corvette and Team Falken Tire's Porsche.
From early on the story at the top of the leaderboard has been one of attrition. The no.1 Audi R15 was the first to falter, just after hour mark. With Mike Rockenfeller at the wheel the car suffered a left-rear puncture, causing damage to rear bodywork of the car. The stop, and quick repair – the Joest team lifting a new rear unit onto the car – initially lost the car two laps to the leaders before returning to the track.
Without even running a flying lap 'Rocky' was struck with another flat left-rear, signifying greater problems with the car. The trip into the paddock for a more serious service dropped the car a further five laps behind the leading cars, apparently dropping them out of contention.
The leading diesel field was thinned further in the race's fifth hour by Marc Gene. Battling for the lead the Spaniard probed up the inside of Dindo Capello in the No.2 Audi on the entry to Sunset – the track's final corner. A tap from the front of the new 908 was enough to pitch Capello into a spin – inflicting damage to the left-rear corner in the process. Gene meanwhile went into the outside wall, suffering heavy damage in the process. Both cars would rejoin after trips into the paddock. The No.2 end the first half of the six laps off the ultimate pace in seventh overall. The Peugeot – which came off the worse in the incident – a lowly 41st overall after six hours.
The GT race has been as frantic as expected. It only took a handful of laps before the first paint was exchanged. Having lost the lead from the start Gianmaria Bruni needed only the smallest of opening through the turn two flick and turn three to take the lead back from Oliver Gavin. Bruni and the AF Corse were soon to fall back leading the two BMW Team RLL M3s and the Risi Competizione F458 to fight over the lead. However, in the GT ranks there has been incident and accident.
Both BMWs were delayed, though both recovered, but the class also saw the biggest incident (quantifiable by damage) of the race so far. Just after the race's second full course caution Jan Magnussen in the no.04 Corvette and Patrick Long in the no.045 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche were fighting over third in class.
Magnussen got ahead, but Long tried to fight back on the inside line through turn 17. The bumps – as described by Allan McNish on www.thecheckeredflag.co.uk in the build-up to the race – caught out the American, the Porsche bouncing aimlessly, washing out into Magnussen, spinning them both. What followed was the result of the tightly bunched field following a caution.
Johannes van Overbeek was the first man following the two, now spinning, cars and after trying to escape on the inside but, finding Long's errant Porsche a rolling roadblock, opted to evade around the outside, were the Corvette found him. The impact flicked the Tequila Patron sponsored F458 into the air and backwards into the barrier which destroyed the rear of the car, one rear wheel, replete with driveshaft and suspension being flung across the track as others approached.
The Extreme Speed Motorsport no.001 of Van Overbeek – who would lament that he didn't want to be the first to wreck a 458 in the world – was an instant retirement, both the Corvette and Porsche that started the incident were able to continue.
At the half way point both the LMP2 and LMPC hold three lap leads over their nearest competitors.
Level 5 Motorsports lead LMP2 with the no.33 Lola Coupe – a car that failed to run a flying lap in qualifying. The race looked to be destined to Signatech NissanGenoa Racing lead LMPC, holding the no.005 CORE Motorsport car at arm's length for second. In the GTC class NGT Motorsport lead the class with all of the class top five covered by a single lap.