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.”
Staying ahead of the competition is what it is all about when it comes to racing. Developing new technologies and designing cars that will hopefully secure victory is what every racing team strives to do. After winning the 2010 Le Mans Cup, the Peugeot team is even more determined that their new Peugeot 908 will be the car to beat in the upcoming season. The French team also managed to secure the 2009 season and even more determined to maintain their winning streak, so last Thursday the public were given the first glimpse of the Peugeot 908.
The design and construction of the Peugeot 908 was done under the project name of 90X. All changes and development of the new car comply with the regulations of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO). Great excitement is building around seeing the new vehicle perform on the track. One of the changes made to the new vehicle was seeing the V12 being replaced by a 3.7 V8 power plant, as the new regulations are enforcing smaller displacement engines. It has been fitted at a ninety degree angle and now produces 542 bhp.
In regard to the aerodynamics of the car, engineers have managed to redesign the car in such a way that the down force has been slightly reduced, to enable the car to maintain the same speed as its predecessor. The shark fin has also been adjusted and designers have strived to make the car more aerodynamic. The Peugeot 908 will also feature the same size tires front and rear.
The Sport’s Technical Director of Peugeot, Bruno Famin, commented that testing the car has aided them in solving a few issues they had with the car, saying: “We did indeed have problems but we succeeded in resolving them one by one as we got more and more kilometers on the clock. One of the very positive points we found was that the car’s handling lived up to our expectations out of the box. With regard to its other strengths and weaknesses, we will need to wait until the first races to see how we compare with our rivals.”
The drivers for the coming Le Mans have been announced to be Simon Pagenaud, Sebastien Bourdais and Pedro Lamy for car number nine; Marc Gene, Anthony Davidson and Alex Wurz for car number seven; and Frank Montagny, Stephane Sarrazin and Nicolas Minassian in car number eight. With the new car and drivers announced for the 2011 season, Peugeot seems ready to take on the Le Mans.
The sport of motor racing has thrilled thousands ever since it first began. It wasn’t long after the first ‘horseless carriages’ had been invented and improved upon that the idea of pitting the strengths of different designs, and the skills of drivers, against one another in a race was conceived. The first organized racing event was in actual fact a Reliability Trial run which took place between Paris and Rouen in 1894. The winning vehicle had to, not only cross the finish line first, but had to be safe, easy to control and reasonably economical to run. The first over the line was Count de Dion, but his vehicle was deemed impractical and the prizes were awarded to the next two cars instead. The winning average speed was only 17km/h but the event gave birth to a new craze – motor racing.
As designs continued to be improved upon, the new sport saw a continued increase in cylinders and engine size. The addition of the pneumatic tire was impractical at first but soon gained popularity. Chassis design changed radically and new brake and tire designs struggled to keep up. And as soon as one design became the winning standard, other car manufacturers would strive to improve upon these to bring their own names into the lime-light. By the early 1900s car speeds were approaching 100mph and races where held on open roads, where both drivers and spectators where often involved in bad accidents. Eventually in 1906 the very first Grand Prix for manufacturers was held by the French. The race took place on a 64 mile course which was lapped six times a day for two days.
It did not take long for other countries to follow suit. Germany became a popular place for racing and their Mercedes motorcars often dominated the scene. The Alfa of Italy and the Fiat and Peugeot of France rose to the challenge, and soon they claimed supremacy for themselves. Because of the dangers involved in racing on public roads, wealthy enthusiasts soon started building oval racing circuits which became very popular. An attempt was made to counteract the dangers of the sport by increasing the rules and regulations surrounding the event. Eventually a recognized and standardized racing sport emerged and much of these standards are still maintained in the motor racing sporting events of today.
The year 1911 marks the beginning of the Indianapolis 500 making it the oldest and richest motoring event to ever have taken place. This American open-wheel event occurs every year on the weekend of Memorial Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Over the years this entertaining event has been attended to by hundreds of thousands of spectators from all over the country giving it its apt nickname, “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing”. On top of that thousands more listen to the live event and watch it every year on Radio and Television broadcast ever since 1949. The year May 2007 marks the events 91st year since the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race was first created.
The actual Indianapolis Motor Speedway was first built in 1909 where it hosted many small motorway events on tracks made from tar and gravel. It was sometime later when the promoters decided that instead of having a lot of small events it would be better to focus on one large event. The next change to make was the actual racing surface, which had been related to a number of driver’s accidents and deaths. The reason for this was that the tar and gravel surface was too uneven to be safe at such high speeds. The new 500 mile track was built using bricks, over three million of them to produce the perfect track.
As mentioned above the first Indy 500 took place in 1911 on Memorial Day with over 80,200 spectators there to view this marked occasion. That day it was Ray Harroun who won the first event in his Marmon “Wasp” that he had put together. With the first race being an American win it now challenged European carmakers to produce cars of a similar nature that could compete in the Indy 500. Between 1913 and 1919 companies like French Peugeot and Italy’s Fiat came up to meet the challenge.
This well loved racing event continues to be a popular form of sport attended by a large following every year. Having existed for so long the Indianapolis 500 has developed a number of traditions, which the supporters love to keep up with.