THREE STINTS FOR MICHELIN! AND SOFT TYRES ARE COMING -- With six hours of the race gone there is a fierce battle raging on the Sarthe circuit and a tremendous atmosphere on and off the track. Among the rototypes the Peugeot-Audi...
THREE STINTS FOR MICHELIN!
AND SOFT TYRES ARE COMING --
With six hours of the race gone there is a fierce battle raging on the Sarthe circuit and a tremendous atmosphere on and off the track. Among the rototypes the Peugeot-Audi duel continues while the number 5 Courage-Oreca, the number 17 Pescarolo and the number 11 Dome are some way off the leaders but ready to pounce on any slip-up from the front-running diesels.
The number 9 Montagny-Klien-Zonta Peugeot 908 slipped into the race lead at 9 pm, relegating the Villeneuve-Gene-Minassian number 7 car to second place again. With the three Audis next. The number 8 Wurz-Sarrazin-Lamy Peugeot meanwhile was fighting its way back through the field after a long stay in the pits to have a faulty gear selector repaired. Porsche number 31 was leading the LMP2 pack, while the David Brabham-driven Aston 009 was being chased by Corvette duo Magnussen and Papis in GT1 and the Melo-Salo-Bruni Ferrari Modena was looking very sprightly in GT2.
As the light faded and the temperature dropped, there was confidence in the Michelin camp about the way the tyres were standing up as the technicians adapted to the tams' decision to run multiple stints, as Michelin's 4-wheel competition manager Matthieu Bonardel explains.
"Things have changed a bit in LMP1. The diesels are still double-stinting - they are happy with the consistency and balance from the medium tyres. It wil be some time before they switch to softs. As for the petrol prototypes, Pescarolo and Dome have been working on three stints for some time already, and Oreca have followed suit, albeit with one difference : Oreca have switched to softs. These teams' third stint is a little slower than the first two, but they balance that out with one fewer visit to the pits."
Do you think we might see the diesels doing triple stints?
"It's possible, it's at the back of people's minds and I don't think we will have to wait till morning to see it happen, given the ferocity of the Peugeot-Audi fight. And as soon as one goes past the other, the tacticians start scratching their heads--"
In general terms when do the teams start thinking about soft tyres?
"At the moment the track temperature is 26, so the switch to softs probably won't happen till around 11 pm or midnight. Then they will all stay on those till about 8 or 9 in the morning."