LE MANS TIME... ALREADY! Immediately after its one-two finish in this year's Le Mans 24 Hours, Team Peugeot Total got back to work with 2010 already firmly in its sights. Like last year, a key part of these preparations is conducted in the USA,...
LE MANS TIME... ALREADY!
Immediately after its one-two finish in this year's Le Mans 24 Hours, Team Peugeot Total got back to work with 2010 already firmly in its sights. Like last year, a key part of these preparations is conducted in the USA, with two Peugeot 908 HDi FAP machines entered in the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on September 23-26.
Since the cars crossed the line at 3pm on Sunday 14 June at Le Mans, the Peugeot Sport team has been hard at work. The winning 908 HDi FAP, and its drivers, have celebrated their victory at: the headquarters of Peugeot Automobiles; at the Goodwood Festival of Speed; at the company's showroom on the Champs Elysées, Paris; at Sochaux, one of the production facilities of the PSA Peugeot Citroën Group; and at Sabadell, where Spain honoured its driver Marc Gené. They have also taken part in road shows and displays in various countries, including at the Frankfurt Motor Show. On top of all this, there was a test session at Mugello in late August plus the day-to-day business at the Peugeot Sport workshops in Vélizy, where the first task was to strip the car and analyse every component after the incredible race at Le Mans.
"We only disassembled cars 7 and 8, because number 9 was in pretty high demand!" observes Peugeot Sport Technical Director, Bruno Famin. "Apart from the brakes and clutch, we could have done a few more hours of racing! It was extremely satisfying to see the 908's level of reliability. There are some interesting statistics, too. In three years, we have entered eight works Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs in the Le Mans 24 Hours: two in 2007, and three in 2008 and 2009. Seven made it to the finish, and five of them finished on the podium! Out of a total of 192 hours of racing, Peugeot has completed 191 hours of running because we've only experience one retirement, in 2007 when car number 7 retired an hour before the finish!"
Reliability won't be the only critical factor in the race at Road Atlanta. Our experience in 2008 demonstrated that tactics, driver commitment and handling the traffic are also decisive factors. Last year, Peugeot entered a single 908 HDi FAP in the hands of Stéphane Sarrazin, Nicolas Minassian and Christian Klien; it finished second, just 4.512 seconds behind the winning Audi.
"Road Atlanta (10 hours) is the longest endurance race in the world after Le Mans (24 hours) and Sebring (12 hours)," points out Peugeot Sport Director Olivier Quesnel. "It is therefore a useful exercise for the entire team. The primary objective is to enrich our knowledge of endurance in a number of key areas: strategy, traffic, reliability, the competition, etc... This is especially true because all of these factors are significantly accentuated at this unusual venue."
The high frequency of safety cars, plus the speed differentials between the different cars, can very quickly give you some headaches, or turn the race into a complete nightmare. Obviously, we'll be putting every effort into winning but we're not the favourites, because the race has been dominated by Audi for the past nine years. We mustn't overlook our other rivals, either. There are many potential winners, which makes this event an indispensable part of our preparations."
For this race, the two Peugeot 908 HDi FAP entries (numbers 07 and 08) will be in the same aerodynamic configuration as that used in the Spa 1000 km, rather than the set-up used at the Le Mans 24 Hours. As far as the engines go, the units that ran on Wednesday during free practice at Le Mans will be re-used without modification at Atlanta. "Each engine has complete about 1500 kilometres," concludes Bruno Famin. "We have chosen this aero configuration because the circuit layout calls for more downforce... which should suit our main competitors, and will make them very hard to beat. At certain points of the circuit, the difference between our cars may be significant, just as it was at the first corner at Sebring, for example, where they were 10 kph faster than us simply because their car produces more downforce."
Running in blue and chrome livery, the two Peugeots will be distinguished by:
- white mirrors and wing for the N°07 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP Pedro LAMY (Portugal) / Nicolas MINASSIAN (France)
- blue mirrors and wing for the N°08 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP Franck MONTAGNY (France) / Stéphane SARRAZIN (France)
FOLLOW PETIT LE MANS LIVE
TVMotors TV (Saturday, September 26, 2009): 17:00 (Continental Europe time)
Speed TV (Saturday 26 September, 2009): 17:00 (Continental Europe time)
www.americanlemans.com/index_paddock.php?xFile=/live.php (link for live timing)
Wednesday, September 23 and Thursday, September 24: free practice
Friday, September 25: qualifying, 20:55 (Continental Europe time)
Saturday, September 26: race (1,000 miles or 10 hours), 17:15 (CET)