Distance record broken for the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP
With a quarter of the race remaining, the situation at the sharp end of the 2007 Le Mans 24 Hours leaderboard has changed dramatically. The two Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs now both figure on the provisional podium after the incident involving car N°16 (which enabled the N°8 car to pass into 4th place) and then the accident that eliminated the race leader shortly after 7.30am, which promoted the two French cars to 2nd and 3rd places. Just minutes after this incident, the N°7 car completed its 256th lap to establish a new distance record for the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP: 3,500km.
Conditions: clear weather, then progressively cloudier / 10°C 14°C (air)
At 6.18, the N°16 car (4th) pits and the car is pushed into its garage to be worked on after spinning hard into guardrails. The N°8 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP consequently moves into 4th place after its 233rd lap (3,175km).
Shortly afterwards, Minassian posts the N°7 car's fastest race lap to date (Lap 238): a 3m 30.325s, then a 3m 29.656s a lap later before the Frenchman makes his second pit-stop of his triple stint.
As Stéphane Bourdais (N°8 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP) approaches his second stop, he too posts a quick time (a 3m 28.391s on its 241st lap) and follows that up at once with a 3m 27.633 (less than half a second off the fastest race lap up this point). Bourdais also makes the second stop of his triple stint straight after his two blistering laps.
With Minassian at the wheel, the N°7 car again improves its best lap to date with a 3m 29.195s (Lap 246). Five laps later, at 7.19, he improves again with a 3m 27.968s... and pits next time round.
At 07.35, the N°2 car crashes out at Indianapolis after losing a wheel after taking the lead on Lap 13. The incident instantly promotes the two Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs to 2nd (car N°7) and 3rd (N°8) places (on paper at least because of the lead enjoyed by the N°2 car at the time of its crash). Minutes later, the N°7 car passes the symbolic watershed of 256 laps, equivalent to 3,500km... a new distance record for the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP.
At 08.03, the N°7 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP passes officially into 2nd place, while the N°8 sister car is officially accredited with 3rd place ten minutes later.
Serge SAULNIER (Team Manager, Peugeot Sport): "What a way to wake yourself up after a sleepless night! What with the times our drivers started posting at daybreak, the fact that we broke the 3,500km barrier we hadn't been able to exceed in pre-race simulations and then the dramatic changes at the top of the leaderboard! It's like a splash of cold water in your face. It's fantastic that both the Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs are still running so strongly."
Sébastien BOURDAIS (N°8 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP): "That was a pretty good triple stint, although the first part was quite a challenge with the presence of fog and very low sunshine. Our pace is faster now and I think I succeeded in taking good care of the tyres. The track is evolving in our favour, too. The more rubber that's being laid down on the asphalt, the better the balance of the car. It's still over-steering a little but we can start pushing now. I was told of the crash involving the race leader [car N°2] over the radio; it just serves as a reminder of how cruel Le Mans can be. In this race, it's not simply a question of being the best. The notions of good and bad luck cannot be ignored."