An Intense Start To The Race
In front of 250,000 fans, Jean Todt got the 79th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans underway. The first few keenly contested laps confirmed that the battle for supremacy would be intense. Three hours into the race, including a safety car period lasting over an hour, the Peugeot no.7 lies second ahead of the Peugeot no.9. Now on a different strategy to the other two cars, following a problem with the brake distribution unit, the Peugeot no.8 is back in sixth.
Conditions: Overcast, dry track, 16℃ at 15:00 – Clear skies, 17℃ at 18:00
Franck Montagny (no.8) moves up to third place at the start, whilst Sébastien Bourdais (no.9) and Alexander Wurz (no.7) lie fifth and sixth respectively. The race at the front of the field is close for the first few laps, with the top six separated by a few seconds until the leaders make their first pit stops about 40 minutes after the start. "'The race got off to a flying start.|Olivier Quesnel|right""
At 15:50 the safety car comes out, after the Audi no.3 crashes spectacularly into the barriers. The safety car stays out for over an hour whilst the safety barriers are repaired. Following a problem with the brake distribution unit, Franck Montagny comes in for his second pit stop earlier than planned and hands over to Stéphane Sarrazin, with the Safety Car still out. The Team Peugeot Total mechanics repair the problem quickly. The no.8 car, now on a different strategy to the leaders, loses a few seconds, heading back out on track in 8th position. Sébastien Bourdais and Alexander Wurz both start the race with a triple stint. At 17:31, Alexander Wurz, makes the most of the traffic to grab second place from the Audi no.1 with a superb overtaking manoeuvre. With the series of pit stops, the Peugeot no.7 moves into the lead ahead of the Peugeot no.9, just before the race's threehour mark.
Olivier Quesnel – Peugeot Sport Director: “The race got off to a flying start. One Audi is out of the race, but anyone can have a problem. The race is going to come down to reliability and the drivers will also have a major role to play. They are the ones who can make the difference. This 24 Hours, it’s going to be crazy.”
Sébastien Bourdais (Peugeot no.9): “It’s difficult, the car is sliding a lot, you have to be careful. We are running on our schedule, we are lapping without taking any unnecessary risks in the traffic.”