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Audi Vs. Peugeot Is Under Way

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, March 18 2011

Peugeot raced to the fast lap during Thursday night's evening practice at Sebring. (Photo courtesy of the American Le Mans Series)

Sebring, Fla. – The heavyweight challengers traded blows during Thursday’s practice sessions for Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring race. When the track was finally put to bed late in the evening, Audi and Peugeot each could boast of having been fastest in practice.

Early in the hour-long afternoon session, Tom Kristensen entered a 1:50.424 (120.626 mph) in the No. 2 Audi R15 that he will share with Allan McNish and Dindo Capello.

Romain Dumas waited until the closing minutes to click off a 1:50.538 (120.502 mph) in the sister R15, co-driven by Timo Bernhard and Mike Rockenfeller. Kristensen’s lap was only slightly off the fastest time of the day, a 1:49.254 (121.919 mph), which was set by Dumas in the morning session.

When the cars returned to the track for the evening practice, it was the Peugeot 908 of Alexander Wurz/Marc Gene/Anthony Davidson which top the charts. They’re best lap was at 1:48.901 (122.313 mph).

Davidson set the fastest lap.

The trio are the defending champions in America’s greatest sports car race, which serves as the opening round of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón and the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup.

Davidson’s best lap was 0.469 seconds quicker than Audi Sport Team Joest’s Tom Kristensen in the session.

The matchup between the diesel powers – three Peugeots vs. two Audis – is one of the storylines of the weekend. Each team has taken a turn on top of the time sheets during each session this week, and night practice marked the first time Thursday that Peugeot bested its German rival.

Stephane Sarrazin in the second factory Peugeot sat third in the session at 1:50.111 (120.969 mph). He is teaming with Franck Montagny and Pedro Lamy, the same trio which the 2010 ALMS with a victory at Petit Le Mans.

Extreme Speed Motorsports led the GT class for the first time with one of its Ferrari F458 Italias. Team owner Scott Sharp set the fastest lap at 2:02.380 (108.841 mph) in the car he will drive with Johannes van Overbeek and Dominik Farnbacher. Ferraris held four of the top five spots with only Corvette Racing’s Jan Magnussen able to prevent a Ferrari sweep. The Danish driver set a lap of 2:02.678 (108.577 mph) on his final lap in the Corvette C6.R that he will share with Oliver Gavin and Richard Westbrook.

Risi Competizione’s Ferrari F458 of Toni Vilander, Jaime Melo and Mika Salo sat third following Vilander’s lap of 2:02.715 (108.544 mph).

Ryan Hunter-Reay put Level 5 Motorsports on top in LMP2 for the first time this week with a lap of 1:56.276 (114.555 mph) in the open-top Lola-Honda that he is driving with team owner Scott Tucker and Luis Diaz. Hunter-Reay was 0.462 seconds ahead of Soheil Ayari in the Nissan-powered ORECA for Signatech Nissan. The ORECA had been the fastest P2 car in every session this week until Thursday night. Ayari will team with Frank Mailleux and Lucas Ordonez.

The second Level 5 entry of Tucker, Christophe Bouchut and Joao Barbosa sat third in class. Barbosa set the Lola-Honda coupe’s best time of 1:57.544 (113.319 mph).

Krohn Racing’s Nic Jonsson went quickest in GTE Am with a lap of 2:05.448 (106.179 mph) in the Ferrari F430 GT that he will share with Tracy Krohn and Michele Rugolo. Jonsson was a whisker quicker than CRS Racing’s Pierre Ehret with the two Ferrari’s separated by just 0.038 seconds. Ehret will drive with Shaun Lynn and Roger Wills.

The Aston Martin Vantage of Gulf AMR Middle East sat third in class with Fabien Giroix’s lap of 2:07.094 (104.804 mph). He will team with Roald Goethe and Michael Wainwright.

In LMPC, Ryan Dalziel turned the fastest time on his final lap of the session, a 1:58.500 (112.405 mph) in the CORE autosport ORECA FLM09 that he will drive with Jon Bennett and Frankie Montecalvo. Dalziel edged out Genoa Racing’s Dane Cameron – who had the fastest time for much of the latter half of the session – by 0.882 seconds.

WRO Racing’s entry of Luca Moro, Johnny Mowlem and Olivier Lombard sat third after Mowlem’s quick time of 2:00.233 (110.785 mph).

Leh Keen went quickest again in GT Challenge for Alex Job Racing. He turned his fast lap of 2:07.737 (104.277 mph) in the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry that he will drive with Bill Sweedler and Brian Wong. Keen went 0.564 seconds quicker than NGT Motorsport’s Porsche of Sean Edwards, who is driving with Carlos Kauffmann and Henrique Cisneros.

Andrew Davis was third-fastest for Kelly Moss Motorsports at 2:09.284 (103.029 mph). He is teaming with Peter LeSaffre and Bob Faieta.

Friday’s final practice session is 10:40 a.m. Friday morning. Qualifying, which will be broadcast live on ESPN3.com, begins at 2:55 p.m. ET.

(This story will be updated as Friday events at Sebring develop)

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, March 18 2011
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