57th Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring
It’s time again for one of my favourite sportscar races. The Sebring 12 Hours is usually a good indicator of who is going to do well at Le Mans in June and as can be seen in the table below, Audi have dominated over the past decade although the Penske Porsche Spyder LMP2 (which did not compete at Le Mans in 2008) won last year. Unfortunately Porsche have pulled out of the ALMS this year, which leaves Audi with their all new R15-TDi to go up against Peugeot and their 908. Acura also have a new LMP1 car after competing for a few years with an LMP2 car. They are going to be the only manufacturer of the three contenders for outright victory, taking in the complete ALMs series, although unlike Peugeot and Audi, they won’t be at Le Mans.
From the Sebring International Raceway website.
“The stage is set for America’s premier sports car endurance race. At 10:30 am on Saturday, the 57th Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida takes the green flag, kicking-off the 2009 American Le Mans Series season.
Since its founding in 1952, the Sebring endurance classic has compiled 672 hours of racing history, with nearly 2.4 million racing miles run on the famous road racing track that evolved from a World War II Army Air Force training base. On Saturday, Le Mans prototypes will reach speeds nearing 200 mph on the Ulmann Straight, the same strip of concrete the famous B-17 “Memphis Belle” landed on sixty-six years earlier.
Sebring International Raceway is America’s premier sports car racing facility. Nestled among the orange groves and cattle ranches of central Florida, it is the oldest permanent road racing track in North America, evolving from a World War II air base.
Sebring is world famous for the annual 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race, part of the prestigious American Le Mans Series. Every year on the third Saturday of March, the raceway hosts thousands of race fans from around the world to witness the historic 12 hour classic. All the legends have raced at Sebring… Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Dan Gurney, Stirling Moss, Juan Manuel Fangio, Phil Hill and dozens of other international motor racing legends, driving race cars built by the world’s great manufacturers such as Ferrari, Porsche, Jaguar, Audi, Ford, Maserati, Aston Martin and Nissan.
Today, Sebring International Raceway is owned by the Panoz Motorsports Group, whose founder Dr. Don Panoz revived the famous Sebring circuit in 1999 by initiating a multi-million dollar enhancement program. The track is active 365 days a year with automotive testing, club events, racing schools, corporate events and other activities.
Conveniently located adjacent to the Sebring Regional Airport, it is less than 100 miles from Tampa, Orlando, West Palm Beach and Sarasota.”
· “Sebring International Raceway is a 3.7 mile, 17-turn circuit. It is the Oldest road course in North America, portions of which were originally a WWII B-17 training base.
· 3,360 cars have started the 12 Hours of Sebring, covering over 2.3 million miles on the famous circuit.
· 102 drivers have won the 12 Hours of Sebring. Thirty-nine drivers from the USA have won, more than any other country.
· Audi has won Sebring eight consecutive years.
· In 2008, the 57th Annual Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring presented By Fresh From Florida received 170,800 spectators.
· Steve McQueen, James Brolin, Gene Hackman, Craig T. Nelson, Paul Newman and Patrick Dempsey are among the many entertainers who have driven at Sebring.”
Overall Winners Since 1999
Weather experts are in agreement that the 57th Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida will be run under mostly sunny skies with temperatures near 80 degrees. America’s oldest and most prestigious endurance race takes the green flag at 10:30 am on Saturday, March 21st.
Long-range forecasts show mild temperatures and a very low percentage chance of rain the entire four-day event.
Sebring International Raceway
Complete Entry List
Sebring Hall Of Fame Inductees
A History of the Sebring 12 Hours
My personal view is that the new Audi R15 is going to do very well. I predict that the Joest Audi of Capello, McNish and Kristensen will beat the Peugeots whilst the Acura looks so far to be a big disappointment. I expect that the R15 is much faster than the old Audi R10 which defeated the Peugeots at Le Mans in June and I expect them to be the fastest cars in the race, but as has been proven in endurance racing several times, the fastest cars do not always win. There is the possibility that the Audis are too new and may not last the distance, in which case the Peugeots should be able to pick up the crumbs.