Duval Dominates at Sebring
Sebring International Raceway, in Florida, opened in 1950, and is considered as one of the top raceways in the United States. It is also home to the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, which many view as a preparation event for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Even though many would believe the bumpy surface of the track to be a negative feature, it actually assists in testing the cars’ capabilities. Fans camp out on the greens along the course days before, in anticipation of this magnificent auto racing event of endurance.
Porsche have managed to win this event seven times, with Audi close on their heels with six victories. When it comes to drivers, Tom Kristensen has been in the wining position in five 12 Hours of Sebring events, but it seems that Peugeot is now making their name in the race, with a Peugeot vehicle winning the race for the second consecutive year.
Lioc Duval was racing in the Peugeot 908 HDi FAp for Team ORECA Matmut, and won the race decisively with a 31.8 second lead on second place finisher Simon Pagenaud, for the Highcroft Racing team. Hughes de Chaunac, owner of Team ORECA expressed his joy over the victory by saying: “It’s a historic result for us. It’s a race that we built step by step. We finished just in front of the manufacturers. We avoided any mistakes. It was a perfect job from the team and these three drivers. It was not easy because I asked them to be quick and patient. We won because we did not make any mistakes.” Duval was teamed up with Olivier Panis and Nicolas Lappierre.
The last three hours of the 2011 12 Hour of Sebring were the most crucial in the entire race. The No.8 Peugeot was brought in by Stephane Sarrazin for a full service, including replacing the broken louvers on the left wheel. Pedro Lamy then took over, but did not make an impact. Drivers in the second and third position kept battling it out, Pagenaud and Montagny, while Duval took on a last fill of fuel and remained unchallenged. He later commented: “When it was time to start my last stint, I was really stressing. To be honest, I hadn’t imagined that I would be in that position! With ten laps to go, things got better: I wasn’t taking any risks and I knew it was going to happen. I still don’t believe what’s happened! I think we did something big and it will sink in during the coming days.”