LEMANS; 2011 Test Day
- Sarrazin sets 3rd fastest time at La Sarthe circuit
- Peugeot team satisfied with test
- All 3 cars ready for Le Mans 24 hour race
A Successful Day's Testing
We followed our development programme to the letter.
Team Peugeot Total took full advantage of the 24 Hours of Le Mans test day to continue their preparations for the world's most famous endurance race. The technical team and the ten drivers, Sebastien Bourdais, Anthony Davidson, Marc Gene, Pedro Lamy, Nicolas Minassian, Franck Montagny, Simon Pagenaud, Stephane Sarrazin, Alexander Wurz and Jean-Karl Vernay completed the scheduled test programme. Endurance and performance were very much on show.
Eight hours of intense work
And so, Sunday 24 April 2011 saw the brand new Peugeot 908 complete its first ever laps of the 13.629-kilometre Le Mans racetrack. The split of the ten drivers in the three cars was changed a little in line with the work to be carried out on each Peugeot 908. Nicolas Minassian, for example, started the session in the no.7 car, Stephane Sarrazin was on board the number 8 car and Alexander Wurz ventured out in car no.9.
With 59 laps completed in the morning session, and 58 in the afternoon, the no.7 Peugeot 908 was the car that covered the most kilometres, in any of the categories. "Our goal was to work on endurance, building on the work done at Aragon with this car at the start of the week", explained Nicolas Minassian. "We successfully completed our programme. We have now spent a lot of time on the track and everything has gone as planned, which is perfect for recording the data we need for the race. Without particularly adjusting the set-up, we had a very efficient car, which bodes well."
The two other teams worked on different set-ups. On board the number 8 car, Anthony Davidson clocked the best performance of the morning session for Peugeot, with a time of 3'30''516. "It's good to be back at Le Mans!" admitted Anthony Davidson. "The car is comfortable to drive, we had made a few minor adjustments to the set-up but overall we are all very happy with the balance of the Peugeot 908 on this track. It was very positive."
Three Peugeot 908s and ten drivers on track The other objective of the day was to allow Jean-Karl Vernay, Team Peugeot Total's new reserve driver, to complete the mandatory qualification laps. The 23 year-old driver got behind the wheel of the Peugeot no.8 in the middle of the afternoon, to complete the ten laps required. "I actually completed eleven laps. I went steadily, taking care on all my overtaking moves. It isn't really difficult to learn the track, it's the varying speed of the cars that is more complicated to get to grips with. I would have loved to have stayed out for longer!"
At the end of the afternoon, Stephane Sarrazin and Sebastien Bourdais stepped up the pace. The man from Le Mans recorded a lap time of 3'28''304, and then in the closing stages of the session, Stephane Sarrazin moved the Peugeot no.8 up to third overall on the day's timesheet, with a 3'27''876. Like the rest of the team, Stephane Sarrazin was pleased with the day's achievements: "We followed our development programme to the letter. This is a new car, so we made changes to the set-up throughout the day. We managed a good result, with an efficient car that is also very enjoyable to drive."
"We pretty much completed our full work programme", commented Bruno Famin. "The number 7 car completed the endurance programme started at Aragon. We have significantly exceeded the race distance for the 24 Hours of Le Mans with this car. We have worked well on the set-up for the two other cars, in spite of an engine alert on the no.9. Until we know more, we preferred to change it. Overall, it was a highly productive day of work, the three cars are intact and the drivers stuck perfectly to the scheduled programme."
After this full-scale test session, Team Peugeot Total will be moving on to Spa-Francorchamps in a few days, where the three Peugeot 908s and the nine works drivers will be all taking part in a race for the first time this season. "We showed both endurance and performance today", concluded Olivier Quesnel. "We have all the data required to make sure we come back to Le Mans with optimised race cars. Spa-Francorchamps will give us another opportunity to prepare for Le Mans. We have seen today that this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans really is going to be very hotly contested."
Next meeting: 6-7 May 1,000 kilometres of Spa-Francorchamps (2nd round of the ILMC).