The inaugural 12 Hours of Sebring was held 60 years ago in 1952. Ferrari was the first to build a dynasty of overall wins, followed by Ford, then Porsche, then Nissan, and today we live in the era of Audi. With its main rival, Peugeot, having pulled out of endurance racing altogether this year, the only manufacturer that could prevent Audi from claiming its tenth overall victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring was Audi itself.
That was unlikely to happen, especially considering that Audi chose to field three teams, each driving the very capable R18 in the car's last appearance before being replaced by the R18 Ultra and R18 e-tron quattro. Yes, the result in the fastest LMP1 class was a forgone conclusion, and Audi delivered, claiming the first and second steps of the podium. The winning R18 was car #2 driven by Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish. Kristensen, who holds the record for most overall wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, also now has a record six overall victories at Sebring. It was Capello's fifth win at Sebring and McNish's fourth. The team of veterans completed 301 laps of the 3.7-mile track and amazingly finished with no evidence of body contact with another car.
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Second place in LMP1 went to Audi's #3 R18 driven by Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and the newly signed Loic Duval. The #3 R18 would've contended for the overall win had it not made contact with another car in the last hour of the race. Audi even had a chance to sweep the podium with a 1-2-3 finish, but its pole-sitting #1 car driven by Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler lost 17 laps about halfway through the race due to gearbox problems. That car ultimately finished 16th overall and fifth in LMP1. Meanwhile, the LMP2 class proved its mettle by filling out the last three spots of the top five behind the two Audis.
Sebring this year marked the opening race of the newly formed FIA World Endurance Championship series, which includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but it also marked the season kickoff of the American Le Mans Series. First place for the ALMS LMP1 class went to last year's championship prototype team, Dyson Racing, with drivers Chris Dyson, Guy Smith and Steven Kane, who finished eighth overall. Despite having only received their new Lola-Mazda car about 12 days earlier, the Dyson crew held on and capitalized on fuel issues suffered by the Muscle Milk Pickett Racing team in the race's last half hour.
We told you this sixtieth running of the 12 Hours of Sebring had an exciting finish, but it clearly didn't happen in the faster prototype classes. The GT class was the one to watch, with BMWs, Porsches, Ferraris and Corvettes battling for the lead nearly the entire race. In fact, six cars jockeyed for the class lead during the second half of the race, but ultimately, Joey Hand, driving a BMW M3 GT, claimed the victory despite being pushed off the track on the last lap. A remarkable recovery and spinout by a chasing Ferrari kept him in the lead, while Corvette Racing crossed the line in second place about 6.3 seconds behind.
The American Le Mans Series moves on to Long Beach for its second round of endurance racing on April 14th, while the World Endurance Championship won't be in action again until May 5th at the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
60th Anniversary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida
Sebring International Raceway, Sebring, Fla.
1. (2) Allan McNish, Scotland; Tom Kristensen, Denmark; Dindo Capello, Italy; Audi R18 (1, P1), 325.
2. (3) Timo Bernhard, Germany; Romain Dumas, France; Loic Duval, France; Audi R18 (2, P1), 321.
3. (12) Stephane Sarrazin; Vicente Potolicchio; Ryan Dalziel; HPD ARX-03b Honda (3, P2), 319.
4. (16) Scott Tucker; Christophe Bouchut, France; Joao Barbosa, Portugal; HPD ARX-03b (4, P2), 319.
5. (11) Olivier Pla; Jacques Nicolet, Paris, France; Mattieu Lahaye; Morgan/Judd (5, P2), 318.
6. (10) Emmanuel Collard, France; Jean-Christophe Boullion, Plaisir, France; Julien Jousse, FRA; Pescarolo Judd (6, P1), 318.
7. (19) Pierre Kaffer; Soheil Ayari, Aix-les-Bains, Savoie; Luis Companc; Oreca/Nissan (7, P2), 317.
8. (23) Chris Dyson, Pleasant Valley, NY; Guy Smith, Beverley, UK; Steven Kane, Newtownards, IRE; Lola B12/60 Mazda (8, P1), 317.
9. (13) Elton Julian, Los Angeles, CA; Christian Zugel; Ricardo Gonzalez; Zytek Z11SN-Nissan (9, P2), 316.
10. (7) Jonny Kane, Ireland; Nick Leventis, GBR; Danny Watts, UK; HPD ARX-03a Honda (10, P1), 316.
11. (15) John Martin; Tor Graves; Robbie Kerr; Oreca 03 Nissan (11, P2), 315.
12. (22) Alex Papow; E.J. Viso; Burt Frisselle, Kihei, HI; Oreca FLM09 (12, PC), 312.
13. (28) Butch Leitzinger, State College, PA; Ken Dobson, Carmel Valley, CA; Rudy Junco Jr.; Oreca FLM09 (13, PC), 311.
14. (20) Thomas Holzer; Mirco Schultis; Luca Moro; Lola B12/80 Coupe Lotus (14, P2), 310.
15. (26) Jon Bennett; Colin Braun, Ovalo, TX; Eric Lux, Jacksonville, FL; Oreca FLM09 (15, PC), 310.
16. (1) Marcel Fassler, Switzerland; Andre Lotterer, Duisburg, DE; Benoit Treluyer, Alencon, FR; Audi R18 (16, P1), 310.
17. (6) David Brabham, Australia; Karun Chandhok, IND; Peter Dumbreck, Scotland; HPD ARX-03a Honda (17, P1), 309.
18. (36) Dirk Mueller; Jonathon Summerton; Joey Hand, Sacramento, CA; BMW E92 M3 (1, GT), 307.
19. (33) Jan Magnussen; Antonio Garcia; Jordan Taylor, Apopka, FL; Corvette C6-ZR1 (2, GT), 307.
20. (35) Olivier Beretta; Marco Cioci; Andrea Bertolini; Ferrari F458 Italia (3, GT), 307.
21. (34) Oliver Gavin; Tom Milner, Leesburg, VA; Richard Westbrook; Corvette C6-ZR1 (4, GT), 307.
22. (42) Bill Auberlen, Hermosa Beach, CA; Uwe Alzen, Germany; Jorg Muller, Germany; BMW E92 M3 (5, GT), 307.
23. (41) Richard Lietz; Marc Lieb; Patrick Pilet; Porsche 911 RSR 997 (6, GT), 306.
24. (48) Sascha Maassen; Robert Bell; Bryce Miller, Hoboken, NJ; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (7, GT), 303.
25. (25) Pablo Sanchez; Chapman Ducote, Miami, FL; Javier Echeverria; Oreca FLM09 (8, PC), 303.
26. (57) Seth Neiman, Burlingame, CA; Andy Lally, New York, NY; Darren Law, Phoenix, AZ; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (9, GT), 303.
27. (43) Anthony Lazzaro, Acworth, GA; Ed Brown, Las Vegas, NV; Jeff Segal, Miami, FL; Ferrari F458 Italia (10, GT), 303.
28. (4) Klaus Graf, Germany; Simon Pagenaud, France; Lucas Luhr, Germany; HPD ARX-03a (11, P1), 302.
29. (47) Paolo Ruberti; Christian Ried, Schoeneburg, Germany; Gianluca Roda, Como, Italy; Porsche 911 RSR 997 (12, GTE-AM), 298.
30. (62) Jon Fogarty, Los Gatos, CA; Tim Pappas, Boston, MA; Brett Curtis, Valencia, CA; Lola B11/80 HPD (13, P2), 298.
31. (49) Jean-Philippe Belloc; Christophe Bourret; Pascal Gibon; Corvette C6-ZR1 (14, GTE-AM), 297.
32. (8) Neel Jani; Nick Heidfeld; Nicolas Prost; Lola B12/60 Coupe Toyota (15, P1), 296.
33. (55) Dion von Moltke, Coral Gables, FL; Bill Sweedler, Westport, CT; Townsend Bell, Santa Monica, CA; Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (1, GTC), 292.
34. (39) Darren Turner; Stefan Mucke; Adrian Fernandez; Aston Martin Vantage V8 (16, GT), 292.
35. (54) Leh Keen, Dublin, GA; LP Dumoulin; Cooper MacNeil; Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (2, GTC), 291.
36. (9) Andrea Belicchi, Itally; Harold Primat, Switzerland; Joeren Bleekemolen, Netherlands; Lola B12/60 Coupe Toyota (3, P1), 291.
37. (53) Damien Faulkner; Sebastiaan Bleekemolen; Peter Lesaffre, Rye, NH; Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (4, GTC), 290.
38. (45) Wolf Henzler; Bryan Sellers, Centerville, OH; Martin Ragginger; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (17, GT), 290.
39. (46) Pedro Lamy, Lisbon Portugal; Patrick Bornhauser; Julien Canal, Le Mans, France; Corvette C6-ZR1 (18, GTE-AM), 288.
40. (59) Emilio Di Guida; Marc Bunting, Monkton, MD; Spencer Pumpelly, Mason Neck, VA; Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (5, GTC), 287.
41. (50) Rui Aguas; Robert Kauffman; Michael Waltrip, Owensboro, KY; Ferrari F458 Italia (6, GTE-AM), 283.
42. (27) Michael Guasch, Palo Alto, CA; Memo Gidley, San Rafael, CA; Roger Wills, Timaru, New Zealand; Oreca FLM09 (7, PC), 282.
43. (56) Kevin Estre; Chris Cumming, Vancouver, BC; Mark Bullitt, Miami, FL; Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (8, GTC), 282.
44. (17) Martin Plowman, Indianapolis, IN; David Heinemeier Hansson; Jan Heylen; Morgan/Judd (9, P2), 281.
45. (61) Michael Aventatti; Cort Wagner, Pacific Palisades, CA; Bob Faieta, Tujunga, CA; Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (10, GTC), 279.
46. (37) Guy Cosmo, Long Island, NY; Scott Sharp, Jupiter, FL; Johannes van Overbeek, San Francisco, CA; Ferrari F458 Italia (19, GT), 278.
47. (64) Fabien Giroix, Saint-Maur, France; Stefan Johansson; Maxime Jousse; Lola B12/80 Coupe Nissan (20, P2), 277.
48. (60) James Sofronas, Newport Beach, CA; Alex Welch; Rene Villeneuve; Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (11, GTC), 276.
49. (30) Raphael Matos; Anthony Nicolosi, Brooklyn, NY; Ricardo Vera; Oreca FLM09 (12, PC), 274.
50. (44) Nic Jonsson; Michele Rugulo; Tracy Krohn, Houston, TX; Ferrari F458 Italia (13, GTE-AM), 265.
51. (21) Bruno Junqueira; Tomy Drissi, Hollywood, CA; Roberto Gonzalez; Oreca FLM09 (14, PC), 255.
52. (51) Joel Camathias, Switzerland; William Binnie, Portsmouth, NH; Markus Palttala; Porsche 911 RSR 997 (15, GTE-AM), 252.
53. (38) Jorg Bergmeister; Patrick Long, Oak Park, CA; Marco Holzer; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (21, GT), 251.
54. (58) Nicki Thiim; Angel Andres Benitez, Jr; Angel Raphael Benitez, Sr; Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (16, GTC), 236.
55. (5) Guillaume Moreau, FRA; Bertrand Baguette, BEL; Dominik Kraihamer, AUT; Oak Pescarolo Judd (17, P1), 233.
56. (31) Toni Vilander; Giancarlo Fisichella , Rome, Italy; Gianmaria Bruni; Ferrari F458 GT (22, GT), 215.
57. (52) Sean Edwards; Carlos Kauffmann, Miami, FL; Henrique Cisneros, Miami, FL; Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (18, GTC), 205.
58. (24) Dane Cameron, Sonom, CA; Henri Richard; Duncan Ende, Los Angeles; Oreca FLM09 (19, PC), 173.
59. (18) Luis Diaz, Mexico; Ryan Hunter-Reay, Boca Raton; Scott Tucker; HPD ARX-03b (20, P2), 85.
60. (14) Franck Mailleux; Olivier Lombard, Poissy, France; Jordan Tresson, FRA; Oreca 03 Nissan (21, P2), 85.
61. (32) Jaime Melo; Jean-Karl Vernay; Frederic Makowiecki; Ferrari F458 Italia (23, GT), 83.
62. (29) Kyle Marcelli; Lucas Downs, North Mankoto, MN; Dean Stirling; Oreca FLM09 (24, PC), 38.
63. (40) Dominik Farnbacher, Germany; Francois Jakubowski; Pierre Ehret, Santa Rosa, CA; Ferrari F458 Italia (26, GTE-AM), 0.