Qualifying for this year’s 6 Hours of Silverstone went ahead this afternoon in a rain-affected session. Despite this being his first outing here, Simon Pagenaud (Peugeot no.7) took pole position, Team Peugeot Total’s third of the season, just before the rain became much heavier. Stéphane Sarrazin finished with third fastest time. The Peugeot no.7 will line up on the front row on Sunday at 11.35am UK time, with Sébastien Bourdais at the wheel. Franck Montagny will start from row two in the Peugeot no.8.
Simon Pagenaud times his run to perfection to grab pole
The three free practice sessions, all run in dry conditions, enabled Team Peugeot Total to complete its work programme in preparation for the race. For Simon Pagenaud, it was also a question of getting used to the Silverstone track, his first outing here. In each of the sessions, a Peugeot 908 topped the timesheets.
A few drops of rain began to fall just as the qualifying session got underway. Under the watchful gaze of Nicolas Minassian and Anthony Davidson, here to support their team-mates, Simon Pagenaud went out immediately to set a time whereas Stéphane Sarrazin decided to wait for little while. The two drivers, both with slick tyres, took it in turns to hold provisional pole position. Simon Pagenaud was the first driver this weekend to dip under the 1’44-mark with a lap timed 1’43.924, just as the rain became heavier.
The deteriorating weather conditions therefore put an end to the scrap for pole between the Peugeot drivers and their rivals. Simon Pagenaud secured his first ever pole position in ILMC. Meanwhile, Stéphane Sarrazin qualified the Peugeot no.8 in third position. Like at the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 6 Hours of Imola, a Peugeot 908 will line up on pole at the 6 Hours of Silverstone, which is due to start on Sunday at 11.35am (UK time).
Bruno Famin, Peugeot Sport’s Technical Director: “It started to rain about two minutes before the start of the session, so that complicated matters. The track was slightly damp, so Race Control put out the Wet Track board. So we had to make the right call in terms of tyres, and quickly – the work done in recent weeks with Michelin were very helpful in that respect. The number 7 car, driven by Simon Pagenaud, took full advantage of our good position on the pit lane to get out on track as soon as the green light was shown and set a time straight away with limited traffic. The track surface was greasy and tricky, but he controlled his lap perfectly. Simon found the brighter spell needed to grab pole. Stéphane Sarrazin was a bit less fortunate. By the time he changed tyres and got out onto the track, he ended up stuck in traffic. When the rain became heavier in the middle of the session, he simply couldn’t improve his time any further. It’s a good overall result for us, we can clearly see that the Peugeot 908s are very quick. We are expecting race conditions to be complicated tomorrow, with somewhat unpredictable weather. A lot of things can happen. We have to be ready to react to whatever comes up.”
The team sent me out on track at just the right time with the right tyres, and that meant I grabbed pole position.
Simon Pagenaud, Peugeot 908 no.7: “That was a good qualifying session for the team, with first and third positions. Conditions were very difficult on track, because there was light drizzle at the start of the session. The team sent me out on track at just the right time with the right tyres, and that meant I grabbed pole position. Obviously, I am very pleased, even though of course it's not the most important part of the weekend. The most important part comes tomorrow. We must finish the race and ensure both cars are well placed. This is the first time I have raced at Silverstone – it’s a wonderful track. I love driving our Peugeot 908 here.”
Stéphane Sarrazin, Peugeot 908 no.8: “It's not easy in the rain to make the right call and we waited a little too long to head out. I completed one fast lap and then the rain became heavier. There was a lot of water on the track straight away and it was impossible to improve my time. The right strategy was to head as soon as the session started, and that's exactly what Simon did. We are third, which is pleasing, although it’s a little frustrating because we have a great car, as we showed during free practice. But it’s just the start of the weekend! We'll have to be careful during the race in the traffic. It’s a fast racetrack, where we come up very quickly on the slower cars. You mustn’t let your concentration slip.”