TWO PEUGEOTS STILL ON TOP, WITH SIX HOURS TO GO
With a quarter of the race remaining, the No.9 and No.8 Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs continue to sit in first and second places respectively. Their closest chaser is still the No.1 Audi which is two laps down, but close enough to prevent the leading duo from easing off in any way. The relative coolness of the early morning produced several quick times from the front-runners, with Nicolas Minassian twice improving the fastest race lap in the course of the past three hours in the No.7 Peugeot (9th). (Conditions: bright and sunny, with increasing cloud cover. 18C)
Pit stops and incidents:
No.7 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP (Nicolas Minassian / Pedro Lamy / Christian Klien):
06.13: pit-stop (fuel and tyres). Minassian takes over from Lamy.
06.56: pit-stop (fuel)
07.39: pit-stop (fuel and tyres)
08.22: pit-stop (fuel)
No.8 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP (Stephane Sarrazin / Franck Montagny / Sebastien Bourdais):
06.17: pit-stop (fuel and tyres). Montagny takes over from Bourdais
07.04: pit-stop (fuel)
07.50: pit-stop (fuel)
08.37: pit-stop (fuel and tyres). Sarrazin takes over from Montagny.
No.9 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP (Marc Gene / Alexander Wurz / David Brabham):
06.15: pit-stop (fuel)
06.58: pit-stop (fuel and tyres). Brabham takes over from Gene.
07.42: pit-stop (fuel)
08.25: pit-stop (fuel)
As the sun rises over Le Mans, all three Team Peugeot Total cars pit a quarter of an hour after the 15-hour mark. Gene takes fuel and stays in the front-running No.9, Montagny takes over from a frustrated Bourdais (whose 2-hour stint saw him spend practically half that time behind a safety car), while the equally- frustrated Lamy (who spent a great deal of his night run in the pits for various repairs) hands over to Minassian who promptly establishes a new fastest race lap at 6.35am (3m24.512s). The race then settles into a rhythm as the No.8 Peugeot chips away at the No.9 car's lead, while the No.7 machine eases back into the top-10 as Minassian again improves on his own fastest race lap (3m24.352s) at 8.06am.
Marc Gene (No.9 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP): "I spent much of the early part of my run behind the safety car, and the last stint was quite difficult because I was unsighted by the rising sun in certain places. Sure, we are in the lead with the No.9 car, but our cushion isn't that big, and there's still a long way to go..."
Franck Montagny (No.8 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP): "My run was fine, Peugeot is first and second, and hope it stays that way. My car is going well and the early morning is a magical time to be on the track. That said, I didn't profit from it much because I couldn't see a great deal. There was oil in my line of sight on my windscreen and, with the low sun making matters worse, I was practically in automatic pilot mode..."
Olivier Quesnel (Director, Peugeot Sport): "The night went well for Team Peugeot Total, but the hardest part of the race is perhaps still to come. The safety car interventions enabled us to spare the cars, but Audi is still just behind us, forcing us to keep up a strong pace. We've got to keep it together... and hopefully cross the line in first position."