PEUGEOTS IN 1st AND 2nd PLACES AT SUNRISE
The first three-hour period following the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours' midpoint was marked by two lengthy safety car interventions, but that didn't prevent the No.8 car from passing the best-placed Audi to put two Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs at the top of the provisional leaderboard with nine hours of racing remaining. The No.7 sister car (11th) saw its fight-back stemmed when it was forced to spend a significant chunk of time (three separate stops) in the Peugeot pits for a variety of mechanical problems. Last but not least, the No.17 Pescarolo 908 crashed out spectacularly shortly after 4am.
(Conditions: clear.19o.C 18o.C)
Pit stops and incidents:
No.7 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP (Nicolas Minassian / Pedro Lamy / Christian Klien):
03.02: pit-stop (fuel and tyres). Lamy takes over from Klien. Front cover change.10 mins approximately.
03.26: pit-stop (fuel, flat bottom change, front section)
03.45: pit-stop (front-right corner assembly changed following broken suspension joint)
04.16: pit-stop (pedal box change) leaves at 04.24
05.05: pit-stop (fuel)
No.8 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP (Stephane Sarrazin / Franck Montagny / Sebastien Bourdais):
03.33: pit-stop (fuel and tyres. Bourdais takes over from Sarrazin
04.06: pit-stop (fuel)
05.07: pit-stop (fuel and windscreen-wiper change)
No.9 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP (Marc Gene / Alexander Wurz / David Brabham):
03.37: pit-stop (fuel and tyres). Gene takes over from Wurz
04.09: pit-stop (fuel and tyres)
05.13: pit-stop (fuel and tyres)
The second half of the race begins with the leading Peugeot (No.9) completing its 200th lap (at 3.13am), and with the No.8 sister car recovering 2nd place at 3.20am when Audi No.1 spends time in its garage. This puts two 908 HDi FAPs back on top.
Shortly afterwards, No.7's comeback takes a blow when Lamy is forced to pit twice in succession, first to change the front section of its flat bottom which had been rubbing against the ground, and then to change a broken suspension joint. It rejoins in 12th place.
The leading Peugeot (No.9) picks up a slow puncture and pits ahead of schedule for a driver/tyre change (Gene taking over from Wurz), but without its lead coming under threat.
Practically on the stroke of 4am, the No.17 Pescarolo Peugeot crashes heavily with Benoît Treluyer inside. Given the extent of the damage, the safety car is called out, but reports concerning Treluyer's health are encouraging. The No.7 makes another long stop, this time for a pedal box change, and falls back to 13th. When the safety cars peel off after 45 mins, Peugeot No.9 leads the No.8 car by 1½ mins, with the best-placed Audi (No.1) a lap down.
15 mins later, the safety car is sent out again, this time because of oil on the track. It stays out another 37 minutes, so there is little change to the leaderboard, although No.7 eases its way back to 11th and No.8 loses practically 1½ mins to the leader while it is out. With Bourdais at the wheel, the Sarrazin/Montagny/Bourdais machine nonetheless succeeds in pulling a further lap clear of Audi No.1 which it passes down the Hunaduières straight on its 236th lap (5.54am).
Alexander Wurz (No.9 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP): "Everything was going well, but I picked up a slow puncture and I had to come in early, so the team put Marc Gene in the car. It is handling well, although I was starting to get some oversteer, so I tried to keep my driving smooth in order to look after my rear tyres. I was also a bit unlucky with the traffic, but that can happen here at Le Mans."