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12 Hours of Sebring

Penske Porsche ends Audi's dominance

The Penske Racing Porsche RS Spyder, driven by Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Emmanuel Collard, took the victory.

BRUCE MOYER | Times

The Penske Racing Porsche RS Spyder, driven by Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Emmanuel Collard, took the victory.

SEBRING — Porsche ended a 20-year drought at Sebring International Raceway on Saturday, also halting Audi's eight-year overall winning streak with a surprising victory.

Driving the Roger Penske-owned Porsche RS Spyder, Romain Dumas finished 12.9 seconds ahead of the Acura ARX-01B of Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz. The Acura, however, was excluded from the results after failing the stall test during postrace inspection.

Timo Bernhard and Emmanuel Collard co-drove the winning Porsche. It was the first overall Sebring win for all three.

With Acura's disqualification, second place in the American Le Mans Series opener went to Butch Leitzinger, Marino Franchitti and Andy Lally in a Dyson Racing Porsche RS Spyder.

The top two were Le Mans P2 prototypes, which are less powerful than the P1s like the Audio R10 TDI diesel of Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Rinaldo Capello. Their car overcame an early penalty and brake problems to finish fourth overall and first in class, Audi's ninth straight class victory at Sebring.

The last overall Porsche victory at Sebring was in 1988 when Klaus Ludwig and Hans Stuck drove a factory 962 to the last of 13 straight Porsche wins. Porsche earned its 18th victory, a record.

Roger Penske became the first team owner to win the Daytona 500, Indianapolis 500 and the 12-hour event. Sebring and the Daytona 500 have come in the past four weeks.

"Two times last year I was put in (during) the last stint to try to catch the leaders," Dumas said. "This time, I was given a car with the lead and I managed to hold onto it. We're especially proud to give this victory to Roger Penske."

Johnny O'Connell became the career Sebring victory leader with his seventh. He teamed with Ron Fellows and Jan Magnussen to easily win the GT1 class in their No.  3 Corvette C6R. It was O'Connell's sixth class win to go with his 1994 overall victory.

The GT2 class victory went to Jorg Bergmeister, Wolf Henzler and Marc Lieb, who finished 13th overall in their Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.

The overall race was expected to be a diesel duel between Audi and Peugeot, but all three diesel prototypes were beset with mechanical problems.

The next event in the series is at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in April.

Penske Porsche ends Audi's dominance 03/16/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:40am]
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