Sebring 12 Hours – Hour 1 Update

McNish in the #2 Audi R15 TDIThe Sebring 12 Hours kicked off with some exciting first few laps. Allan McNish floored the Audi R15 right from the word GO and had already passed De Ferran as the two passed the start line. Within a lap the Scotsman was 5.5s ahead of the rest of the field. The Peugeot #08 started from the pit after its power steering problems.

The LM GT2 class also got into a fight almost immediately with the Robertson Racing Doran Ford GT and #45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 997 GT3 RSR side-by-side on several occasions. Coming out of the hairpin there was contact between the two. The Robertson Racing car went off-track briefly but then overtook the Lizards car, which returned to the pit with a problem on the left rear suspension. Already there was the #90 BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team M3 E92, which had stalled on the grid. The #44 Lizards Porsche also made an early pit stop after a spin.

Fifteen minutes into the race McNish’s lead was still at some six seconds, with Pedro Lamy lapping quicker and slowly catching up the Audi again which had some problems with the traffic. McNish did not allow the Portuguese driver to close in though and as soon as he had cleared traffic the gap to the Peugeot increased again.

With half an hour gone the gap between McNish and Lamy was 12 seconds, with McNish’s team mate Mike Rockenfeller right on the tail of the Peugeot. Franck Montagny had meanwhile moved his Peugeot #08 up into fourth place, despite starting from the back. In LMP2 Luis Diaz still had a comfortable lead over the two Dyson cars and Dirk Werner was almost four seconds ahead of Gianmaria Bruni. The Autocon Lola was the first car to make a scheduled pit stop after 36 minutes.

The Lizards #45 Porsche meanwhile kept lapping the track despite five laps back. Andy Schupack confirming the rear of the car was not in the right shape but that the team could not do anything about it. As a result Bergmeister had been given the order just to race for as long as possible.

At exactly 45 minutes into the race both the #1 Audi and #07 Peugeot came into the pit at the same time. Soon after both cars had gone from the pit race leader Allan McNish and the two Acura ARX-02a cars came in as well, while the #90 BMW finally got its race underway. Whilst Peugeot and Acura decided to double stint their tyres, Audi replaced theirs on the first stop.

With Lamy heading out in first place after the pit stops McNish was forced to chase down the Peugeot, something he really did. After 29 laps McNish was weaving left and right on the finish straight, but he was unable to get by and was still a tenth of a second behind.

After one hour of racing at Sebring this was the top three per class.

LMP1: #07 Peugeot – #2 Audi – #1 Audi
LMP2: #15 Acura – #20 Lola – #16 Lola
GT1: #3 Corvette – #4 Corvette
GT2: #87 Porsche – #62 Ferrari – #21 Panoz

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