Friday, March 14, 2008

2008 12 Hours of Sebring - What To Watch For

12 Hours of Sebring Logo

The 56th running of the 12 Hours of Sebring begins Saturday, March 15th, at 10am. The race is almost always exciting and this year should be no exception. Here are a few specific things to watch for this weekend:

Peugeot vs. Audi
Last year, Audi stood alone in the (competitive) diesel camp, but will be joined this year by one of the diesel Peugeot 908s that ran at LeMans last year. While the 908s couldn't stay with the Audis last June, the practice times in Florida have been incredibly close. Reliability will be a factor here, as the close competition will push the still-relatively-new engine technology to its limit.

Porsche RS Spyders vs. Audi, Peugeot
Last season, the Porsche RS Spyders of Penske Racing were constant threats for overall wins, scoring several over the theoretically-faster Audis. Look for them to continue to pressure the bigger, more powerful LMP1 cars. Audi is going for its ninth-straight win at Sebring, and may get as much trouble from Porsche as from Peugeot.

Risi Competizione vs. Flying Lizard Motorsports
Last year, Jamie Melo in the Risi Competizione Ferrari 430 beat Jorg Bergmeister in the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 by a scant .2 seconds in what was one of the most exciting finishes in the race's long history. The Risi Ferrari ultimately took the championship as well, but look for Flying Lizard to try to take back what they feel was stolen from them last March.

Chevy vs. Ford vs. Dodge
For the first time in ALMS competition, Chevy, Ford, and Dodge will all be represented in one class on Saturday. Operating outside the factory-backed GT1 effort, three-time Speed World Challenge champions LG Racing are bringing their Corvettes to Sebring to compete in the GT2 class. Robertson Racing has brought a Ford GT-R to the party (one of the first to compete in the U.S.), reminding us of the mid 60's when Ford developed the original GT40 specifically to beat Ferrari on the racetrack. Also unrelated to past GT1 efforts is Primetime Racing's Viper Competition Coupe, which ran in a few events last season in preparation for a full 2008 campaign. All three of these efforts are without factory backing or extensive ALMS experience, so none are considered significant contenders for a class win, however the fight to be the Fastest of the Slowest should be entertaining.

While we can only hope for a finish as riveting as last year's GT2 battle, the 56th running of the 12 Hours of Sebring is almost certainly going to be one of the best races of the season.

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