Second row for Team ORECA-Matmut!

The Peugeot 908 HDi FAP No.4 will start the 78th Le Mans 24 Hours from the second row after Nicolas Lapierre's performance on Wednesday.

All three drivers, Oliver Panis, Nicolas Lapierre and Loïc Duval are happy with the handling of the Lion...

After free practice and three qualifying sessions, the Team ORECA-Matmut can be satisfied with a job well done. Even as they were discovering the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP on the Le Mans 24 Hours track, Olivier Panis, Nicolas Lapierre and Loïc Duval showed the needed speed: the trio will line up on the second row for the start at 3 p.m. on Saturday, behind the three other Peugeots and ahead of the three Audi R15 plus. More importantly, in terms of the race, the three men like the balance of the No.4 as they have judged it consistent and good to drive.

"Clearly, the goal was not to go find pure speed," said Hugues de Chaunac. "We concentrated on preparing for the race: the drivers experienced all possible track conditions and whatever those were wet, drying or dry they were in the right rhythm. We have worked well these two days. It was important for us to be at the same level as the three other Peugeots. Our mission is accomplished."

Although Olivier Panis did not drive much on Wednesday, he was able to accumulate mileage during the last two qualifying sessions on Thursday. The Grenoble native spent more than two hours in the Peugeot under changing track conditions. "This session was really interesting," he noted as he got out of the cockpit. "I was able to see how the car would react in different situations and foresee how my stints would go during the race because I completed the equivalent of a double stint. Physically, I feel good. As for the car, it's very nice to drive. Actually, I don't have anything bad to say: it's consistent, quick...we hope to be in the fight, that's for sure!"

For his part, Loïc Duval had the opportunity to turn laps the evening before, notably during the free practice session. For his return to La Sarthe, he had temporarily signed the fastest overall time, before ending the session is third. He got back behind the wheel on Thursday night to complete the required number of laps under the sporting regulations. "You're never completely prepared for Le Mans, but these sessions were positive," said Loïc after his last stint. "We all ran well, in the dry or the wet. The balance suits us well: the car is stable and there are no bad surprises. It's a good thing for such an event. The team did a good job and we are now working on showing that we are capable of a good result. We certainly have the rhythm for it..."

On Wednesday, Nicolas Lapierre had been charged with qualifying the Team ORECA-Matmut 908 HDi FAP. A task he perfectly accomplished, placing himself provisionally in first place. In the end, he would garner the fourth quickest time at 3:21.192. "We worked well while refining the settings as much as possible. We reviewed different solutions, notably in the tyres and we tried to go through the very last detail. The car works well but we will have to find the right compromise in the tyres at the right time. We are going to work hard!"

As intermittent rain affected the last qualifying sessions, the order stays identical to that of Wednesday night. The Peugeot 908 HDi FAP will start from the fourth position.

-source: oreca