WRC

Monte Carlo: Michel Nandan - Peugeot interview

Michel Nandan: The 'new look' 307 WRC Homologation of the latest specification 307 WRC successfully went through on January 1st 2005 which means Peugeot's driver line-up will be able to profit from the team's new challenger in Monte Carlo.

Michel Nandan: The 'new look' 307 WRC

Homologation of the latest specification 307 WRC successfully went through on January 1st 2005 which means Peugeot's driver line-up will be able to profit from the team's new challenger in Monte Carlo. The French team's Design and Race Team Technical Manager Michel Nandan talks about the 2005 car--

Q: What is the reason for this new homologation?

MN: "Amongst the WRC regulation changes introduced in 2005, the maximum permitted width for cars exceeding 4.2 metres in length has been increased from 1,770 mm to 1,800 mm. An increase of 15 mm either side may not seem that much at first sight yet it can make a significant improvement to handling. We have made the most of this opportunity to increase the track dimensions of the 307 WRC, and this in turn has led to a number of knock-on modifications--"

Q: What sort of modifications?

MN: "The front and rear wings are bigger and slightly more flared in order to house the wider tracks. We have also profited from the need to adapt the front and rear bumpers as a function of the new dimensions to revise the air intake, with a view to optimising airflow to the engine, as well as the rear wing which forms part of an overall upgrade of the aerodynamic package. These are the main modifications and they are easily visible from the outside."

Q: The 2005 FIA regulations also represent a certain saving on the equipment and technical fronts--

MN: "Indeed, active anti-roll bars have been outlawed. As a consequence we have reverted to a more conventional system which, although clearly less effective in absolute terms, still functions very well. We have had to adapt, but everyone will be starting the year on an equal footing. Another key change is the fact that engines will now have to cover two rallies. Following the endurance testing we have organised and last year's full-scale dress rehearsal, I don't see this being a problem. Not so long ago, rallies such as the Safari were very long and the engines held. It's a measure that's both logical and positive. The number of chassis we will be able to use in the course of the season has also been restricted, although not excessively. If our drivers don't put them through too many crash tests, we should still be able to do a good job!"

Q: Since the last round of the 2004 season, in Australia, the team has clearly been very active...

MN: "That's right. We began by optimising the strength of the transmission as well as that of other minor components with a view to enhancing the car's reliability, and that necessitated the homologation of certain new parts. After that, we covered a lot of kilometres with the latest specification car in preparation for the Monte Carlo and Swedish Rallies. The drivers seem very pleased with the latest tests. Marcus Gronholm has been able to gauge the difference with the 2004 car, while Markko Martin benefits from a yardstick compared with the Focus he drove last year. Nothing can replace actual competition of course, but it's all very encouraging. Our work isn't over however. We completed a major endurance test on gravel in October, but we will have to wait for the new season to get underway before we begin set-up and outright performance tests on the loose with the 2005-specification 307 WRC."

Q: And of course the 307 WRCs will be running on Pirelli tyres in 2005--

MN: "Although there isn't a world of difference with the products we ran previously, it has been necessary to adapt. In any case, we will be starting from a fresh base compared with 2004 since the cost saving measures introduced by the FIA in agreement with the manufacturers have led to a significant reduction in the choice and quantities of tyres available for each round. For example, we will have a single pattern in Sweden and we will only run 18" rims on the Monte Carlo Rally, even if it snows. We accordingly focused on testing on the surfaces we will encounter early in the season and we are still on a learning curve as far as certain ranges are concerned, notably for gravel, but I think we will be ready by the time the championship moves on to the loose."

-mpt-

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