DIESEL DUEL TO CONTINUE AT ROAD ATLANTA
Peugeot is returning across the Atlantic this fall after announcing that it will enter two of its diesel-powered prototypes for Petit Le Mans powered by the Totally New Mazda6 at Road Atlanta. The pair of 908 HDi FAPs will go head-to-head against the leading manufacturers and teams of the American Le Mans Series in its cornerstone event, just as it did in March at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and in June at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
"Peugeot thrilled our fans with their stunningly beautiful cars, leading-edge clean diesel technology and fantastic speed," said Scott Atherton, Series President and CEO. "Our fans at Petit Le Mans powered by the Totally New Mazda6 are in for the same treat. Peugeot's decision to enter confirms the prestige this cornerstone event has attained. I think Peugeot is looking at racing in the American Le Mans Series as 'unfinished business,' and I suspect they will pick up where they left off last March at Sebring."
Marc Gene, Christian Klien and former Series pole-winner Nic Minassian will drive one of the exquisite diesel coupes, which will use Petit Le Mans as a test for next year's 24 Hours of Le Mans. Pedro Lamy and Stephane Sarrazin, who teamed for three GT1 victories in 2006 for Aston Martin Racing in a full American Le Mans Series effort, will partner with Alexander Wurtz in the second 908.
Five of the six are former Formula 1 competitors with the sixth - Minassian - widely considered one of the two best sports car drivers in the world alongside Audi's Allan McNish.
"Nothing can replace actual competition," said Team Peugeot Technical Director Bruno Famin. "As last June's Le Mans showed, it takes experience to take on a competitor that has the benefit of 10 years of this race behind it and which stays fit by contesting more races during the season compared with Peugeot, namely in the American Le Mans Series in which it faces opponents like Porsche and Acura. Petit Le Mans is about traffic, safety car interventions and strategy, but it is above all 1,000 miles - or up to 10 hours - of fierce racing, which is sufficient to enable us to collect some very valuable data and information."
Peugeot entered one 908 at Sebring and finished 11th overall (fourth in LMP1) for its first start in North America. It went on to finish second, third and fifth at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June as the lead 908 finished on the same lap as race winners McNish, Dindo Capello and Tom Kristensen in an Audi R10 TDI.
"With Peugeot entering two cars, Petit Le Mans has the potential of literally being a continuation of the epic battle that raged between them and the diesel Audis for 24 hours at Le Mans," Atherton said. "And for fans of truly world class sports car racing - does it get any better? Audi against Peugeot against Porsche against Acura against many others over the course of 1,000 miles will undoubtedly be one for the history books - and certainly one of the highlights of what has been an extraordinary 10th season."
The next round of the American Le Mans Series is the Mobil 1 presents the Grand Prix of Mosport, scheduled for 3:05 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 24 from Mosport International Raceway just outside of Toronto. The eighth round of the 2008 American Le Mans Series will be aired live on SPEED. XM Satellite Radio will air the race live on XM Channel 166. Live radio coverage also will be available from American Le Mans Radio at americanlemans.com, which also will feature IMSA's Live Timing & Scoring.