Gene is upbeat about American race chances

MOTORsport: Marc Gene is confident that the 2011 Peugeot 908 is capable of winning next weekend’s Sebring 12-Hour Race in Florida, write Colin and James Beckett.

The former University of Buckingham student, winner of the famous American race last season, will drive the lead French Peugeot in the race with Brackley’s Anthony Davidson and former F1 driver, Alexander Wurz.

Gene said this week: “The build-up to Sebring has been difficult for the team due to two large incidents with the new car. I suffered a big crash as the result of suspension failure prior to Christmas, while Nicolas Minassian was the victim of a similar accident recently.”

He added: “We are both okay and the team have worked hard on the design of the car to make sure we have a machine capable of winning races this season.”

The Sebring 12-Hours is the first round of the American Le Mans Series, and is traditionally seen as an event that allows teams to have a long distance race ahead of June’s Le Mans 24-Hour Race.

Peugeot will use the event to compete with their new car in race conditions for the first time, while their multi Le Mans-winning German rivals Audi will race an interim car ahead of the full race launch of their new R18 diesel prior to Le Mans.

“2011 is certainly going to be an exciting year for prototype racing,”

Gene predicted. “Peugeot and Audi will be fighting very hard for overall victories and it will be really interesting to see how the new Aston Martin runs once it starts to race.”

>>Teams contesting the 2011 British F3 International Series completed a two-day test at Silverstone this week, writes James Beckett.

All the competitors who will make up the new season were in action at the Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit, including both Brackley’s T-Sport and Buckingham’s Hitech Racing. Pietro Fantin was the fastest driver for a local team driving a Dallara-VW for Hitech, clocking the sixth fastest time.

The British F3 International Series starts at Monza in Italy on April 15-16, before heading to Oulton Park for the Easter weekend.