Audi drivers Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Rinaldo Capello claimed a third Sebring 12 Hours together on the return of long-distance world championship sports car racing.
The Audi trio followed up on their 2006 and 2009 victories, notched up in the R10 and R15 respectively, to win the opening round of the FIA World Endurance Championship aboard an updated 2011-spec R18 TDI LMP1 car. They became the first driver line-up to win Sebring three times on what was the 60th anniversary of the Florida event.
McNish and his teammates led all but 66 of the event’s 325 laps on the way to finishing four laps clear of team-mates Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Loïc Duval. However, the race remained close into the penultimate hour until a handling problem forced Bernhard to back off.
McNish said after the race: “We worked very hard for this victory. Together with the engineers and mechanics, Tom, Dindo and I invested a lot of time working out the optimal race set-up. That paid off because we had the best race car today.”
The third Audi, shared by André Lotterer, Benoît Tréluyer and Marcel Fässler, was delayed by gear selection problems and finished 16th.
Third place went to the best of the LMP2 runners on a day that the majority of the P1 privateers hit trouble. The US Starworks team’s Honda Performance Development ARX-03b took the position in the hands of Peugeot refugee Stephane Sarrazin, Ryan Dalziel and Enzo Potolicchio.