The 2008 Sebring 12 Hours was a historic race for Porsche, as they clinched overall victory, and winning the GT2 class too as the cherry on the cake. The race, held at Sebring International Raceway in Florida, USA, is one of the oldest and most prestigious endurance races in the world, and winning it is a significant achievement for any manufacturer.
In the LMP2 class, Porsche was represented by the RS Spyder, a purpose-built prototype that had already enjoyed considerable success in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). The car was fielded by the Penske Racing team, which had won the ALMS LMP2 championship in 2007 with the RS Spyder.
The Penske Racing team fielded two RS Spyders in the race, which were driven by a team of experienced Porsche drivers, including Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas, and Emmanuel Collard driving the number 7 car. Patrick Long, Sacha Maasen, and Ryan Briscoe took the wheel of the number 6 Porsche RS Spyder. The team faced stiff competition from rival manufacturers such as Acura and Mazda, but were able to maintain a consistent pace throughout the race. Bernard, Dumas and Collard were able to take the lead late in the race and hold it to the finish, securing Porsche’s second class victory of the day. The other RS Spyder from the Penske Racing Team faced less luck and they had to abandon the race.
The win was the first overall at Sebring by an LMP2 car and saw 27 overall lead changes, a race record, and three lead-lap finishers, tying a race record. Dumas took the checkered flag by 1:02.084 over Dyson Racing’s trio of Butch Leitzinger, Marino Franchitti and Andy Wallace in their Porsche RS Spyder. The Audi Sport North America trio of Dindo Capello, Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen finished third overall and first in LMP1. Third in P2 class and fourth overall was the second Dyson Porsche of Chris Dyson and Guy Smith as the P2 class took three of the top four spots.
The overall win for Porsche was its first since 1988 when Hans-Joachim Stuck and Klaus Ludwig took victory in a Porsche 962. Roger Penske took his first win at Sebring in 40 years and became the first team owner to win overall at Sebring, the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500.
Victory in GT2 Class
In the GT2 class, Porsche was represented by the factory-backed Flying Lizard Motorsport team, which fielded two Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs. The cars were driven by a team of experienced Porsche drivers, including Patrick Pilet, Richard Lietz, and Mark Lieb. The all-German team with Jörg Bergmeister , Wolf Henzler and Marc Lieb was able to take the lead early on and maintain it throughout the race, eventually finishing 3 laps ahead of their nearest competitor.
The victories at the 2008 Sebring 12 Hours were a major achievement for Porsche, and they marked the beginning of the company’s successful return to international endurance racing. Since then, Porsche has continued to compete at the highest level of endurance racing, winning numerous races and championships with their highly advanced race cars. The victories at Sebring in 2008 will always be remembered as a significant moment in the company’s racing history, and a testament to the enduring legacy of Porsche in endurance racing. 2008 was the last time that Porsche could achieve an overall victory, the 18th in its successful history at the Sebring 12 Hours.
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Pictures courtesy Porsche AG, Audi and unknown