It’s certainly been a busy weekend in the world of motorsport, with the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup – a series very much home to former F1 drivers – staging its season-opening round, the Sebring 12 Hours.
The initial form guide would indicate that it would be a battle between the Peugeot and Audi squads, but a combination of factors and racing incidents saw the junior ORECA Peugeot outfit, driven by Nicolas Lapierre, Loic Duval and former Grand Prix winner Olivier Panis, take victory in a tense three-way battle in the final hours of the race.
The trio beat the Highcroft HPD – piloted by IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti, former ChampCar driver Simon Pagenaud and former F1 driver David Brabham – by a margin of just 31 seconds.
The works #8 Peugeot – driven by former F1 pilots Franck Montagny, Stephane Sarrazin and Pedro Lamy – finished third, less than 15 seconds further behind. This trio had taken pole position in qualifying and looked set for victory with three hours to go, until it lost a lap in the pits having a new nose fitted, and then Lamy spun on hit out-lap from the pits.
The other works #7 Peugeot lost a lot of time with accident repairs after Marc Gené collided with Rinaldo Capello, and finished a distant eighth.
Audi and its new R15+ turbodiesels failed to capitalise on their own opportunities and required attention in the pits for off-track incidents, and finished in fourth and fifth places. The fourth-placed Audi piloted by Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Rinaldo Capello was the fastest car on the circuit for much of the final third of the race, with its pace being enough to make up two of the seven laps it lost due to the repairs.
BMW’s M3s claimed a 1-2 in the GTE class with former World Touring Car Championship drivers Andy Priaulx, Jorg Muller and Augusto Farfus featuring in their two-car line-up.
[Images via LAT]