Road Atlanta: Peugeot qualifying report

POLE-POSITION WITH STYLE The dying seconds of today's qualifying session for the Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta saw Frenchman Stephane Sarrazin snatch pole-position at the wheel of his Peugeot 908 HDi FAP to finish ahead of Audi,...

POLE-POSITION WITH STYLE

The dying seconds of today's qualifying session for the Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta saw Frenchman Stephane Sarrazin snatch pole-position at the wheel of his Peugeot 908 HDi FAP to finish ahead of Audi, Porsche, Acura and the rest. The Peugeot 908 driver's fastest lap of the afternoon also establishes a new outright record for the track!

The week of testing which took place during the week leading up to the American classic saw 10 or so LMP1 and LMP2 prototypes lap within the same second, which pointed to an extremely close and exciting qualifying session. The instant the pit-lane light turned green, Stephane Sarrazin took to the track to mark the start of what turned out to be a thrilling clash between the Peugeot driver and McNish, with just thousandths of a second splitting the two men for much of the session. The N0x00b04 Audi set a 1m 6.327s on its fourth lap to establish a benchmark time, while Stephane Sarrazin -- who was in particularly incisive form -- closed to within 61 and then 32 thousandths of the Scot before pitting midway into the session to top up with fuel prior to one last effort to bag the best time. With just minutes of the session remaining, and with the Audi was parked up in its pits, the Peugeot driver posted a blistering 1m 6.242s to secure pole position for the French squad.

Stephane Sarrazin: "I was surprised by how little grip there was during the early part of the session and I went into some memorable slides. The grip improved for the second half of the session, though, and I decided to give it everything I had. I couldn't see myself returning to the Peugeot pits with only the second best time to show for everybody's efforts! Indeed, everyone at Peugeot Sport has done a remarkable job and the car has improved each time out round this particularly exacting track."

Michel Barge: "We are expecting the race to be very close and difficult from start to finish, with lots of traffic and probably a high number of safety car interventions if the number of times red flags were shown during the different practice sessions is anything to judge by! Our objective in coming here is to give everyone in the team more experience in race conditions to prepare for 2009. It is therefore important to go as far as possible with the single 908 HDi FAP we have entered for the race, and I have to say that our car has received a fantastic welcome here at Road Atlanta."

The Petit Le Mans starts at 11.15am on Saturday morning (October 4), local time. Nicolas Minassian will start from pole position for what promises to be an extremely difficult 1,000-mile race. There are essentially 10 or so LMP1 and LMP2 cars that stand a chance of winning, but absolutely anything can happen. The heat is likely to take its toll, the number of cars out on the track will guarantee plenty of traffic and this spectacular, hilly circuit pardons no mistakes, not to mention the fact there is very little in it between the different cars...

-credit: peugeot

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Nicolas Minassian , Stéphane Sarrazin