TWO PEUGEOTS ON THE PROVISIONAL PODIUM AT MIDNIGHT
After nine hours of racing, and with the French circuit now well and truly engulfed in darkness, Peugeot continues to lead the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours, while the front-running No.9908 HDi FAP passed the 2,000km threshold on the stroke of midnight! The No.9 car is currently a lap clear of the most threatening Audi (No.1), and the No.8 car has also recovered a place on the podium after relinquishing the lead shortly before 9pm. The Pescarolo-run Peugeot (No.17) is running well in fourth place, and the No.7 Team Peugeot Total car is back in the top-10 again after falling back to 51st spot at the beginning of the race. Minassian (No.7) established a new fastest race lap (3m24.628s)
Pit stops and incidents:
No.7 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP (Nicolas Minassian / Pedro Lamy / Christian Klien):
21.14: pit-stop (fuel)
21.56: pit-stop (fuel and tyres). Minassian takes over from Lamy
22.40: pit-stop (fuel)
23.23: pits-top (fuel)
No.8 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP (Stephane Sarrazin / Franck Montagny / Sebastien Bourdais):
21.41: pit-stop (fuel).
22.27: pit-stop (fuel)
23.12: pit-stop (fuel and tyres). Montagny takes over from Bourdais. The stop takes 3m42s when a front cover change proved difficult.
23.59: pit-stop (fuel)
No.9 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP (Marc Gene / Alexander Wurz / David Brabham):
21.14: pit-stop (fuel)
21.56: pit-stop (fuel and tyres). GeNo. takes over from Wurz
22:39: pit-stop (fuel)
23.23: pit-stop (fuel)
The second quarter of the race began with the No.9 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP in the lead, and the early pace- setting No.8 car looking to work its way back towards the sharp end of the leaderboard after falling to 6th due to a mechanical problem. As No.8 gradually gained ground with Bourdais at the wheel, the No.2 Audi crashed out of 3rd place, and out of the race, to give the Frenchman a footing on the provisional podium again at 9.30pm
Just before that, the leading car, driven by Wurz (No.9), completed its 100th lap at 9.11pm. As darkness began to fall over the circuit, the race seemed to be settling into cruise mode, but shortly before 10pm, the No.1 Audi made a long pit-stop (3m20s), enabling No.8 to retrieve second place (one lap down), with the No.17 Pescarolo-run Peugeot tailing the German machine in fourth.
Bourdais' run (3+ hours !) in the No.8 car came to an end at 11.12pm when he pitted to hand over to Montagny, but a lengthy front cover change -- necessitated by a collision with a backmarker -- dropped the all-French crew back down to third.
The No.7 car -- driven by Minassian -- made it back into the top-ten at 11.55pm, with the Frenchman establishing a new fastest race lap of 3m24.628s at 11pm.
Alexander Wurz (No.9 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP): "I pushed hard to try to pull out a gap over the cars behind me, and then attacked a bit more when the No.8 car's stop handed me the lead. The low setting sun, made visibility quite tough, so I lifted slightly at the end of my triple stint."
Pedro Lamy (No.7 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP): "We've lost a considerable amount of ground, and that has obviously changed the overall picture for us. The No.7 car is going well, although it did pick up a little understeer towards the end of my run."
Sebastien Bourdais (No.8 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP): "My first stint was interrupted by a problem at the rear- left corner. After that, I was in a chasing role, which wasn't easy. With all the traffic, overtaking can get a bit delicate in the dark. I hit a GT2 car just before making my last pit-stop. It's a shame, because the No.8 car is going well."