Team Peugeot Total made the trip to Florida with a view to preparing for June’s Le Mans 24 Hours, and will return home on Wednesday with plenty of valuable data, plus a historic one-two finish in this weekend’s race itself. In addition to securing its third consecutive one-two, the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP is the first French car to win at Sebring since the race was first held in 1952.
The No 07 car driven by Alexander Wurz, Marc Gené and new boy Anthony Davidson finished ahead of the N0 08 sister car of Sébastien Bourdais, Nicolas Minassian and Pedro Lamy.
After starting the 12 Hours of Sebring from the front row of the grid, the two Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs were never separated by more than a handful of seconds, despite the searing heat, traffic, safety car appearances and race incidents.
The two Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs were not slowed by the slightest mechanical problem, and the team will be looking to confirm further the car’s excellent reliability when it stays on for two more days of testing at the circuit, today and Tuesday.
At the end of the day, all that split the two machines at the finish were a puncture, two spins and their respective pit stops. After 12 hours of racing, it was finally the No 07 Peugeot of Marc Gené, Alexander Wurz and Anthony Davidson which took the chequered flag in first place after 367 laps, closely followed by the sister car in the hands of Sébastien Bourdais, Nicolas Minassian and Pedro Lamy.
After the 2009 Le Mans and last autumn’s Petit Le Mans, Sebring is Peugeot’s third straight one-two finish. It is also the first win for a French car in the American classic and puts an end to 11 years of German domination of the race.
Alexander Wurz started in the No 07 car on soft tyres and succeeded in holding off the pressure from team mate Sébastien Bourdais in the sister car which had chosen to start on medium compound tyres. The Lola driven by Pirro managed to split the two Peugeots for a while, and this enabled the No 08 Peugeot to gain an advantage as it took control and covered two stints on the same set of tyres. The lead enjoyed by Bourdais / Lamy / Minassian was further extended when Anthony Davidson span shortly after the four-hour mark. The ground lost was recovered by the halfway point, however, with the pit stop timing causing the two cars to trade positions again. A further change in the order came when the No 08 car emerged in front after a refuelling stop. The drama continued on lap 262 when the leading car fell back a place after picking up a rear-left puncture. This put the No 07 Peugeot back in front, and that’s how the race ended, with the result pretty much sealed when Sébastien Bourdais span making a final bid in the last half-hour.
Great Britain’s Anthony Davidson shared the victory with his 2009 Le Mans winning team-mates Alexander Wurz and Sebring rookie Marc Gené. The crew of the No 08 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP crossed the line in its immediate wake to make it a historic one-two finish for Peugeot. The fastest lap of the race was set by Sébastien Bourdais.
Today and Tuesday will see one of the cars continue the team’s endurance testing work at Sebring, with Marc Gené, Anthony Davidson and Simon Pagenaud all on duty.
Oliver Quesnel: “Our mission here was to validate a certain number of developments and we achieved that goal to the letter. Despite the absence of our main rival, I believe we put on a great show and team orders were only issued after the final pit-stops, with half an hour remaining. It was quite tense, but also very instructive. Reliability promises to play a key role at Le Mans, and the two 908 HDi FAPs ran like clockwork here, and our refuelling work, race strategy and the work of the entire team were all very strong, too. We can be proud to have added a French victory to this race’s roll of honour, and the 908 has now succeeded in winning all the main endurance races. It’s a promising result, but we can’t afford to take our eye off the ball…”
Anthony Davidson: “This is a fantastic result for me and for Team Peugeot Total. I thoroughly enjoyed driving the 908! It was nice that the race turned out to be so close, and it’s great to have marked my debut with the team with a win. I would like to thank everyone for their tremendous work.”
Alexander Wurz: “Finishing first and second is a perfect result for Peugeot. The outcome was only really settled after the last round of pit-stops and we pushed hard throughout the race.”
Marc Gené: “This was great practise ahead of Le Mans, both for the drivers and everyone in the team. It was good training for overtaking round what is a very demanding circuit…”
1 – Peugeot 908 HDi FAP 07 (Davidson/Gené/Wurz), 367 laps in 12h 0m 54.362s
2 – Peugeot 908 HDi FAP 08 (Bourdais/Lamy/Minassian), + 13.817s
3 – Lola-Judd (Mucke/Primat/Fernandez), + 3 laps
4 – Porsche RS Spyder (Pickett/Graf/Maassen), +14 laps
5 – Honda (Pagenaud/Brabham/Franchitti), + 18 laps