Sebring Race is on

March 20, 2010

Sebring Race is on

March 20, 2010

The field takes the start for the 12 Hours of Sebring. Photo credit: Rick Dole

The 12 Hours of Sebring is underway with a great crowd under clear blue skies on perfect spring day.  Alex Wurz in the No. 07 Peugeot diesel takes the early lead but his teammate Sebastien Bourdais is fighting off a strong early move by Emanuele Pirro in the Drayson Lola.

The internet is back to life here at Sebring, but the action on the track has been caution free.  An early Porsche v. Porsche battle between Wolf Henzler and the Flying Lizard’s Joerg Bergmeister saw a traffic jam build behind Henzler. Bergmeister made his move on lap 14 and was followed on the next lap by Jaime Melo in the Risi Ferrari. The next time by, the Corvettes of Jan Magnussen and Oliver Gavin were through to establish a Michelin 1-2-3-4 at the front. A few laps later the Corvettes freight-trained around Melo.

Just short of the one-hour mark and we have the first yellow caution period of the race for the #11 LMPC of Joel Feinberg.  A few of the Prototype leaders had pitted just a lap or two before the cauton. It will be interesting to see how the leaderboard changes after the balance of the field completes yellow flag stops.

Through the first 75 minutes of the race, the level of GT2 competition has been nothing short of incredible. There have been five leaders in the category, representing four different car manufacturers (Porsche, Ferrari, Corvette and BMW) and three different tire makers.

The field has completed the first round of pit stops. The No. 08 Peugeot and Drayson Lola took fuel only on their stops, but the rest of the LMP1 and P2 cars took on fresh sets.

The LMPC battle is also highly intense. Level 5 Motorsports teammates Christophe Bouchut and IndyCar Series star Ryan Hunter-Reay, in his ALMS debut, could be covered by a blanket. Bouchut currently leads but is fighting off “RHR’s” challenge, for the moment.

After an hour and 45 minutes, Michelin leads in all four categories where they are entered and holds down each spot in the top 10 overall. The 08 Peugeot leads the Drayson Lola, with starting drivers Sebastien Bourdais and Emanuele Pirro still on board. Simon Pagenaud leads in the HPD ARX-01c in P2, and the Risi Ferrari has edged ahead in the highly competitive GT2 class. Race coverage is off SPEEDTV for now but will resume at 2 p.m. E.T.

We are through three hours, one-quarter’s distance, in the 2010 12 Hours of Sebring. If this was a normal ALMS race, we would have already seen the checkered flag, since most series events are 2 hours, 45 minutes. In this race, things are stablizing throughout the field. The prototypes are through their third round of pit stops, and the lead No. 08 Peugeot has twice double-stinted its set of Michelin tires. Pedro Lamy is currently on board.

The GT2 battle was very tight for third place in class between the No. 4 Corvette and No. 45 Flying Lizard Porsche. Emmanuel Collard and Marc Lieb were the two pilots, Collard holding the advantage. They trailed the leading No. 62 Risi Ferrari and No. 92 BMW. The GTs are into their third round of pit stops, as the second-in-class BMW just pitted to initate the sequence.

In the last five minutes, the two Corvettes have contacted each other in the pits. The No. 3 entry was released and the No. 4 ran into the side of the car, in a fairly heavy impact. Both cars have suffered damage and are being worked on in the pits.

So far the only full course caution was the LMPC accident in the first hour. Michelin runners occupy the top 8 positions overall, and lead in the P1, P2, LMPC and GT2 classes.

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