FIRST POLE FOR THE 908
After a long week's hard work and some intensive practice sessions, Team Peugeot Total took part in its first qualifying session with the brand new Peugeot 908. Stiphane Sarrazin produced a faultless lap to take the car's first ever pole position. With the no.8 car on pole and the no.7 car in third, the two driver teams are ideally placed for the 59th edition of the 12 Hours of Sebring, but the hardest part is still to come - the race itself!
A decisive flying lap!
On the baking Sebring raceway, Marc Geni (in car no.7) and Stiphane Sarrazin (in car no.8) were given the task of qualifying the two Peugeot 908s. Qualifying conditions stipulate that each driver had a maximum of three flying laps to set the best possible time.
Marc Geni was the first off the mark. With a lap timed at 1'48''020, the Spaniard provisionally topped the time sheets. However, his team- mate Stiphane Sarrazin struck what was an ultimately decisive blow on his first and only flying lap. With a time of 1'46''571, the quickest lap of the weekend so far, the French driver grabbed the Peugeot 908's first ever pole position.
Stiphane Sarrazin, Peugeot 908 no.8: "I waited for four minutes before heading out onto the track so as to avoid the traffic. That turned out to be the right decision, and it was all wrapped up after one lap! I am really pleased with this result. It's just rewards for the whole team, because we have really worked hard in the last few months and it's been even more intense since we arrived at Sebring. It is only the first step, but the goal remains the same for us. We are here to accumulate experience with this new car; above all else, we must therefore make sur strategy is going to be key. With the new regulations, we have slightly less speed, so it is therefore more difficult to overtake. We will need to be very mindful of that throughout the 12 hours of racing!"
Olivier Quesnel, Peugeot Sport Director: We are extremely pleased with this first pole for the Peugeot 908. Stiphane Sarrazin's time is very interesting and shows our performance level. First and third on the grid is a great qualifying result for the team, but the hardest part is still to come the race itself!"
Bruno Famin, Peugeot Sport's Technical Director: "We have been working hard for a long time now, so we are all quite proud and pleased with today's result. We completed our scheduled programme in free practice without paying a great deal of attention to lap times. We gathered a lot of useful information for the race and have then built on that by securing the first ever pole for the Peugeot 908. With a line-up of 57 cars, traffic will be decisive factor in the race, given the number of red flags we have seen in all of the free practice sessions. The goal is to put the cars to the test in race conditions, as preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans."
Marc Geni, Peugeot 908 no.7: "We didn't make the best technical choices. The main thing was for us to qualify no further back than the second row; we are therefore optimistic about our chances in the race. It is going to be hot, with a lot of cars on track. This 12 Hours of Sebring will be a tough event, as is always the case in the major endurance races."
The 12 Hours of Sebring starts on Saturday 19 March at 10.30am (local time). Franck Montagny will start from pole position in the Peugeot 908 no.8, recognisable by its white rear-view mirrors. Alexander Wurz will be on the second row when the green flag gets the race underway, behind the wheel of the no.7 car, with its blue rear-view mirrors.