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Sarrazin keeps Peugeot on top Wednesday in Sebring
Peugeot’s Stephane Sarrazin set the fastest lap of the day at Sebring International Raceway on Wednesday, the first official day of practice for the 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida. The Frenchman toured the 3.7-mile, 17-turn circuit in 1:44.719 (127.198 mph) in the day’s second practice session.

Driving one of Peugeot’s diesel-powered 908 HDi factory coupes with Franck Montagny and Sebastien Bourdais, Sarrazin sat 0.214 seconds ahead of Audi Sport’s Tom Kristensen in the new R15 TDI, also a factory diesel entry. Kristensen is teaming with Allan McNish and Dindo Capello, and the same trio won last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The last time Peugeot and Audi went head-to-head was last season’s Petit Le Mans, an Audi victory by less than five seconds. Sarrazin was the overall pole-winner, however.

A second Audi prototype sat third with the entry of Mike Rockenfeller, Lucas Luhr and Marco Werner posting a best time of 1:45.894 (125.786 mph), a little more than a half second better than Scott Dixon in de Ferran Motorsports’ Acura ARX-02a.

Guy Smith kept Dyson Racing on top in LMP2 for the second straight session. The Brit, driving with Chris Dyson and Andy Lally, set his quickest lap with a 1:50.802 (120.214 mph) pass in Dyson Racing’s new Mazda-powered Lola B09/86 coupe. It was good enough for a 0.346-second gap back to Lowe’s Fernandez Racing’s Acura ARX-01b of Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz.

In GT1, Jan Magnussen kept the No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C6.R out front for the second straight session. After teammate Antonio Garcia went quickest in the morning, Magnussen’s bettered that time in the afternoon was a 1:56.907 (113.937 mph) in the entry that Johnny O’Connell also will drive.

The sister Corvette of Olivier Beretta, Oliver Gavin and Marcel Fässler was second in class at 1:57.069 (113.779 mph).

Dirk Werner put Farnbacher Loles Racing’s Porsche 911 GT3 RSR on top in GT2 with a lap of 2:02.591, also the best time in class on the day. Werner, who will drive with Porsche factory drivers Wolf Henzler and Richard Lietz, was 0.667 seconds better than the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche of Patrick Long, Jörg Bergmeister and Marc Lieb.

Risi Competizione’s Ferrari F430 of Mika Salo and Pierre Kaffer sat third in class at 2:03.303 (108.027 mph).

Thursday’s first practice session is scheduled for 10:20 a.m. ET with qualifying set for 2:45 p.m.

Morning Session

Peugeot’s Franck Montagny turned the fastest lap in the first official practice session for the 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida on Wednesday as the start to the 2009 American Le Mans Series continued to draw closer.

Driving one of Peugeot’s two diesel-powered 908 HDi coupes, the Frenchman posted a best lap of 1:45.159 (126.665 mph) and was 0.586 seconds better than Audi’s Lucas Luhr in the German marque’s brand new R15 TDI. The last time Peugeot and Audi went head-to-head was last season’s Petit Le Mans, an Audi victory by less than five seconds.

Montagny, a two-time class winner last season for Andretti Green Racing and Acura in LMP2, is driving with fellow countrymen Stephane Sarrazin and Sebastien Bourdais. In the Audi, Luhr will team with fellow defending Series P1 champion Marco Werner and Mike Rockenfeller.

Third overall was Allan McNish in the second Audi R15 TDI at 1:45.810 (125.401 mph). He will drive with Dindo Capello and Tom Kristensen. The best of Acura’s new ARX-02a P1 entries was the Patr¢n Highcroft Racing P1 and sat fourth at 1:46.219 (125.401 mph). David Brabham, Scott Sharp and Dario Franchitti will drive that entry.

Chris Dyson was quickest in LMP2 for Dyson Racing with its new Mazda-powered Lola B09/86 coupe. Smith, who will drive with Guy Smith and Andy Lally, posted a time of 1:50.772 (120.247 mph). He was nearly a second better than the Lowe’s Fernandez Racing Acura ARX-01b of Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz.

Corvette Racing newcomer Antonio Garcia was the quickest driver in GT1. In his first race for the team (but third year at Sebring), Garcia turned a lap of 1:57.913 (112.965 mph). The Spaniard will drive with defending class winners and Series champions Johnny O’Connell and Jan Magnussen.

Garcia was a scant 0.073 seconds ahead of the sister car of Marcel Fässler, Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta. This season marks the last of GT1 competition for Corvette Racing, which will transition to GT2 in August.

Gianmaria Bruni continued Advanced Engineering Pecom Racing Team’s strong weekend with the fastest time in GT2. The Italian, who drove at Sebring last year for Risi Competizione, set a fast lap of 2:02.897 (108.383 mph) in the car he is sharing with Luis Companc and Mathias Russo. Bruni edged out Farnbacher Loles Racing’s Richard Lietz in the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR that he will drive with Wolf Henzler and Dirk Werner.

Joey Hand was third in class for BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team in one of its two new BMW M3 that he will share with Bill Auberlen. Hand’s best lap was a 2:03.749 (107.637 mph).

The next practice session is set for 2:40 p.m. ET this afternoon.

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