Michelin and Audi combine for victory at Sebring
Michelin claimed its 14th consecutive victory at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring as Audi and Michelin combined technologies to deliver a 1-2 finish in the 60th running of America’s premier sports car race held before a record crowd.
Audi driving legends, Tom Kristensen, Dindo Capello and Allan McNish prevailed for the victory over teammates Romain Dumas, Timo Bernhard and Loic Duval. Audi dominated the entire race, the opening event of the 2012 American Le Mans Series season and the inaugural event for the new FIA World Endurance Championship.
“Sebring is a very important race both as a major event and as the first, and perhaps last, opportunity for manufacturers, teams and drivers to prepare for the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” said Silvia Mammone, Michelin motorsports manager.
“We are very pleased to extend the Michelin record of success at Sebring and to see our technical partner teams perform so well. We introduced a number of new tires here at Sebring for both Prototype and GT teams that helped our teams run quick and very consistent lap times,” said Mammone.
The large 64-car field swarmed the 3.7-mile circuit, keeping the leaders in heavy traffic throughout the race. “The key to dealing with all the traffic is to look for a rhythm,” said Kristensen, an eight-time of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. “There were challenging moments every lap. You have to go fast and be consistent”
A potential Michelin sweep of the race podium evaporated in the final hour as Sebring’s reputation as a rigorous test for Le Mans yet again proved true. A number of cars making their race debuts encountered various mechanical, electrical, and refueling issues.
After dominating the ALMS P1 class for first 299 laps of the race and running third overall, the new Muscle Milk Pickett Racing Honda of Lucas Luhr, Klaus Graf and Simon Pagenaud encountered a refueling system issue and lost several laps.
In the GT category, Corvette Racing led much of the way through the first nine hours but the race shifted into a Corvette, AF Corse Ferrari and BMW Team RLL three-way battle over the final three hours. BMW’s Joey Hand, Dirk Muller and Jonathan Sommerton ultimately prevailed.
Leading the Michelin technical partner teams was Corvette Racing’s Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia and newcomer Jordan Taylor who finished second and teammates Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Richard Westbrook who took fourth in combined GT and third in the ALMS class.
Taking the victory in the LMP Challenge class was the CORE autosport combination of E.J. Viso, Alex Popow and Burt Frisselle. The team was able to triple-stint their Michelin tires in order to save time in the pits.