PEUGEOT SETS THE EARLY PACE AT LE MANS
The three Team Peugeot Total cars have pulled clear at the top of the provisional leaderboard after the first two hours of racing. Their closest challenger (CarN2) is more than one minute behind (at 17.07). The pace was immediately quicker than 2007, with Lamy (Peugeot 908 HDi FAP N8) starting from pole position and posting a 3m 22.449s on only his second lap as he headed Peugeot's charge at the front of the field, ahead of team-mates Montagny (N9) and Minassian (N7. After the first round of driver changes, Sarrazin posted a 3m 21.872s to establish a new benchmark time and leads at just after 5pm in the No.8 car.
(Conditions: dry and bright but cloudy for start. 18 deg C. 20 deg C)
The three Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs head the field away at the stroke of 3pm. The Audi No.2 passes Peugeot No.7 into third place, but Minassian retaliates down the Hunaudieres Straight to recover third spot. The three Peugeots (No.8/No.9/No.7) are covered by less than a second after lap 1 as Lamy immediately beats the 2007 fastest race lap (3m 27.176s) by just over half a second. He then posts a 3m 22.449s next time round before the Peugeot trio settles into a pace that sees Lamy pull 28s clear of first non-Peugeot runner by first fuel stop after 30 minutes (9 laps). Audi N2 leads momentarily during the first round of pit-stops, but the three 908 HDi FAPs are soon back on top of timesheets in same order once all front-runners have fuelled (best non-Peugeot runner: +34.8s). The No.2 Audi also leads briefly during the second round of pit-stops which see drivers changes for all three Peugeot cars (Lamy . Sarrazin, Montagny . Klien and Minassian . Villeneuve). However, the driver change of the No.9 car takes a little longer than planned because of a sticking wheelnut. Sarrazin's fourth lap (Lap 25) sets a new fastest race lap with a 3 21.872s. He pits for fuel after his 31st lap, imitated by his team-mates Klien and Villenueve next time round.
Pedro LAMY (No. 8 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP): "I was able to get in two good stints at a fairly fast pace. We need to carry on pushing. I had a little bit of understeer, but everything went very well on the whole."
Nicolas MINASSIAN (No. 7 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP): "The track was very slippery and the pace very fast. I was taken by surprise by the Audi at the Dunlop Bridge but I soon passed it again. The first overtaking manoeuvres are always quite tricky as everybody settles into the rhythm.