No. 1009
August 14, 2019

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The Line



March 19, 2008

Copyright © 2008, John Thawley ~ Creative Communications Group All rights reserved.

Publisher's Note: See a mini-gallery of photographer extraordinaire John Thawley's work from the 12 Hours of Sebring by clicking on the above photo (All images Copyright © 2008, John Thawley ~ Creative Communications Group All rights reserved). Thanks again to John for allowing us to showcase his superb images in - PMD

arrowup.gifPenske Racing, Porsche. Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Emmanuel Collard (No. 7 Penske Racing DHL Porsche Spyder) drove to an historic overall win at the 56th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida last Saturday, the season opener for the American Le Mans Series. The win was the first overall at Sebring by an LMP2 car, and America's classic endurance contest saw 27 overall lead changes, a race record, and three lead-lap finishers, tying a race record. Dumas took the checkered flag by 1:02.084 over Dyson Racing’s trio of Butch Leitzinger, Marino Franchitti and Andy Wallace in their Porsche RS Spyder. (Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz had finished second overall and in class but failed a post-race stall test in technical inspections. Their Lowe’s Fernandez Racing Acura ARX-01b was excluded as a result.) The Audi Sport North America trio of Dindo Capello, Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen finished third overall and first in LMP1. Third in P2 class and fourth overall was the second Dyson Porsche of Chris Dyson and Guy Smith as the P2 class took three of the top four spots. The overall win for Porsche was its first since 1988 when Hans Stuck and Klaus Ludwig took victory in a Porsche 962. Roger Penske took his first win at Sebring in 40 years and became the first team owner to win overall at Sebring, the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500. Audi’s streak of consecutive overall wins at Sebring ended at eight, although it extended its Series record of consecutive class wins to 23. The much-anticipated battle between diesel rivals Audi and Peugeot materialized in the race’s opening half. The two traded the lead back and forth for 131 of the first 133 laps before the Peugeot 908 began to falter with hydraulic problems and related issues. It eventually finished fourth in P1 and 11th overall in its only scheduled appearance in North America for 2008.

arrowup.gifMarco Andretti. Some people who should know better actually questioned this kid's talent, the implication being that he was handed things in racing because of his last name. But anyone who witnessed the way he grabbed his AGR Acura ARX-01B LMP2 car by the scruff of the neck and flat willed it around Sebring at blistering speeds had to be impressed. It was one of the most awesome displays of pure race driving talent and ability that we have ever seen. This just in, the kid is good.

arrowup.gifCorvette Racing, Pratt & Miller. Johnny O’Connell became the winningest driver in Sebring history with his seventh class victory as he broke a tie with Sebring legend Phil Hill. O’Connell teamed with Jan Magnussen and Ron Fellows for a trouble-free run in Corvette Racing’s No. 3 Corvette C6R. The trio started from the head of the GT1 class and never trailed, completing 328 laps and finishing eight overall. It was the sixth GT1 class victory in seven years for Corvette Racing. “We had great pit stops. We made time on in laps and out laps,” O’Connell said. “Anytime you beat your own team, you have to be pretty good. Everyone is really feeling positive about things. Last year there were a lot of races where I thought we were the dominant car and had a lot of bad luck.” O’Connell won overall in 1994 and posted class victories in 1993, 1995 and 2002-2004. “We had some unfinished business,” Fellows said. “We had a really strong car at Road Atlanta and had some bad luck with Jan. We had a great race at Le Mans. All three of us feel that this is a great way to start. Le Mans is the next big prize we’re going to shoot for. This is a great confidence builder for all of us and we definitely want another Le Mans.” The victory gave Fellows four Sebring wins - he teamed with O’Connell for three straight from 2002-04 - and was Magnussen’s second in four years. “If you’ve ever had the chance to meet Phil Hill, he is everything good and proper about motorsports,” O’Connell said. “He was what was wonderful about that era. You run across some of your heroes that you run across that are so full of themselves. But you meet someone like Phil Hill, he’s one of the coolest cats around! You start to have a real understanding about what this race is about.” The No. 4 Corvette C6R of Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Max Papis ran into trouble early. The car lost time early in the race when the crew had to change a right halfshaft in the second hour. "We lost the inner tripod joint on the right side," explained team manager Gary Pratt. "All of the lube was still there, but it snapped one of the three drives at the spline. We've never seen a failure like that before." The trio was trying for a second straight class win together, but came home second in GT1, eight laps behind their teammates. The Sebring race marked the competition debut of two new Corvette C6R race cars, chassis numbers 007 and 008. "We introduced two new cars at this event, and again demonstrated the hallmarks of Corvette Racing: meticulous preparation, great teamwork, and flawless pit stops," said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. "We've shown that we're ready for an exciting season in ALMS and we're looking forward to Le Mans."

(GM Racing/Richard Prince Photo)
Johnny O'Connell, Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan, GM Racing road racing group manager Steve Wesoloski, Ron Fellows and Jan Magnussen celebrate another big GT1 class win for Corvette Racing at the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring last Saturday night.

arrowup.gifFlying Lizard Motorsports, Porsche. The Lizards finally broke through in the 12 Hours after finishing second the last two years. Jörg Bergmeister, Wolf Henzler and Marc Lieb drove their No. 45 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR to a two-lap victory over the No. 44 team car of Darren Law, Seth Neiman and Alex Davison. It was the first 1-2 class finish for the Flying Lizard Motorsports team, which placed third in 2005 and runner-up in 2006 and 2007. “The Lizards really deserve this victory because they have worked so hard over the years,” Lieb said. “To win this race after the last two disappointing seasons, it makes me very happy. The Lizards really deserve this victory because they have worked so hard over the years. This team puts a lot of effort into racing with Porsche. It goes down through the people who care for the tires to engineers. Everything is just running really well at the moment. Flying Lizard is one of the top teams in the world and deserves a win like this.” The Risi Competizione/Krohn Racing Ferrari F430GT finished third in class, driven by Nic Jonsson, Eric van de Poele and Tracy Krohn. The next race for the American Le Mans Series is the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg on Saturday, April 5, from the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. The race will be broadcast on ABC from 1:30-3:30 p.m. ET on April 5. Radio coverage will be available on XM Satellite Radio and on, which also will feature IMSA’s Live Timing & Scoring.

arrowup.gifRandy Pobst, K-PAX Racing, Porsche. Former Floridian Randy Pobst’s (No. 1 K-PAX Racing Porsche 911 GT3) local weather pattern knowledge helped make the pivotal decision to pit early for rain tires, as he came back through the field - from last to first - to win the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championship season opener, part of the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring Presented by Fresh From Florida at Sebring International Raceway. Andy Pilgrim (No. 8 Remington Shaving Cadillac CTS-V), of Boca Raton, Fla., and Michael Galati (No. 23 K-PAX Racing Porsche 911 GT3), of Olmsted, Ohio, completed the top three. “We started with the rain early on and it was quite livable, but then somebody crashed which didn’t surprise me one bit,” Pobst continued. “So then, we’re riding along under yellow, watching the skies, the windshield, and the road. I looked at the weather and decided to go with the wet tires. I felt that the rain tires, were a kind of intermediate tires, that would be okay in the dry too. So we changed the tires and went to the back, and to our great fortune it started raining harder and harder. As I watched that water build up I knew that everybody on dries was in trouble. When we changed, it still wasn’t a sure thing. We took a gamble. It could have quit raining right there, but it didn’t.” Brandon Davis (No. 10 ACS/Sun Microsystems Ford Mustang Cobra) recovered from a late-race brush with the wall on a restart to record a fourth-place finish. This race will be broadcast on SPEED Friday, March 21 at 1 p.m. (EDT). The series next visits the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach for the Long Beach SPEED GT Presented by ACS, April 20. 

Copyright © 2008, John Thawley ~ Creative Communications Group All rights reserved.

arrowup.gifPierre Kleinubing, RealTime Racing, Acura. Pierre Kleinubing (No. 43 Acura/RealTime/Eibach/Red Line Acura TSX), of Coconut Creek, Fla., led from start to finish to capture his 27th-career SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car win, his third at Sebring International Raceway, to start the 2008 season at the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring Presented by Fresh From Florida weekend. Teammates Kuno Wittmer (No. 44 Acura/RealTime/Eibach/Red Line Acura TSX), of Montreal, Quebec, and Peter Cunningham (No. 42 Acura/RealTime/Eibach/Red Line Acura TSX), of Milwaukee, Wis., delivered a podium sweep for RealTime Racing. Starting from his record 31st pole, Kleinubing averaged 92.963 mph in beating Wittmer to the checkered flag by 0.645-second. The series next travels to VIRginia International Raceway, in Alton, Va., for Round Two, April 25-27. This race will be broadcast on SPEED Channel Friday, March 21 at 12 noon (EDT). 

Copyright © 2008, John Thawley ~ Creative Communications Group All rights reserved.

arrowup.gifMichelin. The French tire manufacturer won an unprecedented 10th consecutive overall victory in the 56th running of the 12 Hours of Sebring, America’s oldest and most prestigious sports car race. The tenth consecutive overall win in the 12 Hours of Sebring matches the record tenth consecutive win for Michelin at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last June. The furious race pace produced new race lap records in the LMP1, LMP2 and GT2 classes, as both Audis and the race leading Peugeot all broke the former track record on just the third lap of the race. Risi Ferrari’s Jaime Melo set a new GT2 mark on the next lap. When the No. 2 Audi led lap 115 of the race, it marked the 3,000th lap of Sebring led by Michelin in the last 10 years. With the exception of three laps under caution early in the 2005 race, Michelin has led every green flag lap at Sebring since lap 296 of the 1999 Sebring race. The Michelin total is now 3,236 of the last 3,239 laps at Sebring. The Sebring victory was the 86th for Michelin in the 89 races held since the inception of the ALMS in 1999. With Saturday’s sweep of all four class victories, Michelin now has 245 ALMS class wins, including victories in all four ALMS classes in each of the past 13 events.