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Sebring Fast Approaches . . .

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On: Thu, Jan 7, 2010 at 12:48PM | By: John Welch

Sebring Fast Approaches . . .

Ahhh, the Florida air is thick with the stench of high-octane diesel and burnt rubber. The sounds of several hundred pistons pumping in unison is filling the crowd's ears and the excitement is as palatable as the paté being served at the Audi press tent. This is Sebring in March- physical, tangible magic.

The Twelve Hours of Sebring has been held on a reclaimed B-17 runway in the middle of Florida (literally) since the end of the second World War. The worn asphalt has witnessed some of the greatest battles waged outside of the hedgerows of Normandy. To put it simply: La Sarthe, eat your heart out.

Last year's race saw an epic showdown between German and Franc, VW and PSA, Audi and Peugeot. Acura intended to join the fight, but the ARX-02a was hopelessly out-matched in this war of diesel-powered titans. A small gas-powered V8 was a knife compared to the V10 and V12 European gun-fighters. Several videos depicting the beginning, middle and end of the 2009 12 Hours of Sebring inside this post . . .

IMSA/La Mans-style Sports Prototypes are simply the most impressive machines to be run in anger in the 21st Century. Sure, Formula One cars are arguably the most advanced racing cars, and Top Fuel dragsters the fastest, but wild innovation has been stifled in both disciplines. Not with Le Mans Prototypes. Sure the rules are strict, but compared to everything else they are wide open. The LMP1 class in the ALMS features cars powered by Twin Turbo V8s (Intersport Lola), gas V10s (Drayson Racing Judd/Lola), gas V8s (Acura ARX-02a), diesel V10s and V12s (Audi R15 and the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP), and that doesn't even cover all of the various aero tricks and suspension pieces used by each different team. In F1, it's all 2.4 liter V8s. In Super GT, you can make only 500 bhp. In Grand-Am the prototypes are all eerily similar to World Sports Cars from the mid-nineties. DTM has engine restriction and the IRL is a complete 'kit car', spec-series joke. Don't even get me started on NASCAR.

In the ALMS we find racing purity. At last year's 12 Hours of Sebring we saw this purity play out in a series of hotly contested battles between the monstrous diesels of Audi and Peugeot. To get us all excited in our naughty parts for the upcoming 12 Hours, the 'Shopper presents a review of last season's gripping race. Close your spreadsheets, mark yourself 'Busy' on GoogleTalk, you've got some videos to watch . . .

First, we are treated to a guided tour of the Sebring circuit, in a 2008-spec Audi R10. Our host is none other than Allan McNish himself.

The first laps of the race. "Diesel dominance" is apparent from the start . . .

Two hours in, we have a pass for the lead!

After pit-stops, Peugeot was able to get the lead back from the clutches of the Audis. Ahh, but then the bumpy Sebring track reached out and touched Sebastian Bourdais . . .

Hold on to your hats, folks, the racing gets stellar about 5 hours in . . .

Different drivers in the cars by the ninth hour; the battle is just as fierce.

Right around 10 hours, the vast difference in performance between the Audi and Acura cars is proven unequivocally . . .

The thrilling conclusion to the 2009 12 Hours of Sebring. Holy crap, I can't wait for March 2010 . . .

Photo Gallery (click a thumbnail to enlarge)



TDIgunk | 10:09AM (Wed, Jan 27, 2010)

I think Auto Shopper should send someone to cover the race!


TDIgunk | 10:11AM (Wed, Jan 27, 2010)

Great videos!

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