ANOTHERWIN FOR SIMON The circuit of Spa-Francorchamps lived up to its reputation once again to produce yet another dramatic 1,000-kilometre round of the Le Mans Series. After securing pole position, the fastest race lap and victory in Belgium in...
ANOTHERWIN FOR SIMON
The circuit of Spa-Francorchamps lived up to its reputation once again to produce yet another dramatic 1,000-kilometre round of the Le Mans Series. After securing pole position, the fastest race lap and victory in Belgium in 2009, Simon Pagenaud's target this time round was to score a second consecutive win in the factory Peugeot 908 HDi FAP. The challenge was much tougher this time round compared with 12 months ago, however, since the field featured two other factory Peugeot 908s, as well as three new R15s entered by the works Audi team. In a race that was widely billed as a fullscale dress rehearsal ahead of June's Le Mans 24 Hours, Simon and his team-mates Sebastien Bourdais and Pedro Lamy provided the most assertive performance. A lightning lap from Bourdais put the No.3 Peugeot on pole position, but the weather conditions for the race itself proved quite complex. The start saw Lamy get caught out by the lack of grip and he went wide at the La Source hairpin, losing eight places. The incident sparked off a thrilling comeback, however, as the three drivers put all their energy into fighting their way back to the front. Despite the unsettled weather, the traffic and the various safety car interruptions, they produced an exceptional performance to recover the lead, and Simon profited from his stint at the end to defend that advantage all the way to the flag. When rain resumed with an hour remaining, the Frenchman opted to stay out on medium-compound slick tyres, unlike his rival who switched to intermediates. Thanks to advice from the team's Meteo France technician, the gamble paid off perfectly, allowing Pagenaud to cross the line with a cushion of more than one minute and collect his second straight win at Spa. The Belgian result serves as an encouraging pointer ahead of the fast-approaching Le Mans 24 Hours on June 12-13.
"Spa has a habit of springing a fewsurprises and is also known for the exciting races it produces. Last weekend went very well for us and I think the spectators were kept on their toes all the way to the flag. Pedro Lamy and Seb Bourdais both did splendid jobs, while thanks must go, too, to everyone at Peugeot Sport and Meteo France for keeping us so well informed about the changing conditions. The rain returned during my final stint, just before the safety car came out for the last time. I was in contact with my race engineer Christian Deltombe all the time and, despite the challenging drizzle, we decided it would be best if I stayed out on my medium-compound slicks! The conditions were extremelyhazardous in places,but thedecision paid off. Towards the end, the track started to dry again, and I was able to pick up a second consecutive win at Spa. I am delighted with the way the race turned out, and it was excellent preparation for Le Mans. Audi is very competitive, though, and Le Mans promises to be an incredible fight!"