24H Le Mans, H+12 : Team ORECA-Matmut delayed at the halfway point…
The Team ORECA-Matmut Peugeot 908 HDi FAP crossed the halfway mark in eighth position. The #10 spent a long time in fifth place, behind an Audi R18 and three Peugeot 908s, before going straight at the Playstation chicane. After a 14 minute repair, the team rejoined the race hoping to gain track position.
After reaching the top 5 at the end of the eighth hour, the Nicolas Lapierre/Loïc Duval/Olivier Panis trio had conserved it. The race was neutralised for more than two hours, while Nicolas Lapierre was at the wheel: “I stayed a long time in the car, but I only did two stints under green flag. It was hard to stay concentrated and keep the tyre temperatures. Nonetheless, the balance of the car was pretty good and we were in a good rhythm. We’ll know more in the early morning. Whatever happens, we can’t give up.”
Seventh on the grid, Nicolas Lapierre takes a prudent start. Eighth at the end of the first lap, he regains his position in the next lap. He keeps a quick pace until the first safety car period, deployed at the end of the first hour. The green flag returns at the start of the third hour: the #10 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP continues to avoid problems, running consistently in the top 5. After four consecutive stints, Loïc gets in the car. He also completes a quadruple stint, keeping the same tyres. In sixth place, Team ORECA-Matmut stays on the lead lap. Olivier Panis takes his turn at the quarter mark, for three good stints. He continues the work started by his teammates before being replaced by Nicolas during the eighth hour.
The safety car is once again deployed shortly before the third-way mark after an accident involving the #1 Audi (Mike Rockenfeller is unhurt and taken to the medical centre.) The #10 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP runs in fifth place in the hands of Nicolas Lapierre, then replaced by Loïc Duval. But during his second stint, he is surprised by non-signaled gravel at the Playstation chicane. He is able to return to the pits and, after a 14 minute repair (front cover, front suspension…), the #10 rejoins in eighth place, 9 laps behind the leader.
-source: team oreca-matmut