AN EXTREMELY CLOSE-RUN QUALIFYING SESSION Since their arrival in Florida at the end of last week, Peugeot and the drivers of the team's two 908 HDi FAPs have been busy preparing for the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours. Despite suffering a couple of...
AN EXTREMELY CLOSE-RUN QUALIFYING SESSION
Since their arrival in Florida at the end of last week, Peugeot and the drivers of the team's two 908 HDi FAPs have been busy preparing for the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours. Despite suffering a couple of setbacks during testing earlier in the week, both cars took part in this afternoon's qualifying session which saw five cars lap within half a second of each other as Peugeot claimed places on the third and fifth rows of the grid.
"Like Le Mans, Sebring is a real endurance race, so starting from pole position wasn't a priority for us. Qualifying was essentially just a chance for us to prepare for the race and we only put in the number of laps we deemed necessary, which means we have spared our tyres. We are pleased with our lap times and the main objective comes on Saturday, not before. That said, seeing how qualifying unfolded, with all the LMP1s bunched so close together on the same second, it promises to be a very close race. We have no intention of taking any risks, however. Our goal is to prepare for Le Mans," stated Peugeot Sport Director Olivier Quesnel. Austria's Christian Klien (Peugeot 908 HDi FAP No.07) and Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais (No.08) were entrusted with qualifying their respective cars, and the former posted a 1m 45.462s second time round: "Sebring is new to me and I haven't had too many chances to drive this week. It is a very difficult, bumpy track, but I feel comfortable with our car. Concentration is likely to be a key factor because there are so many potential pitfalls here. The car is going well, though, and I hope our problem with the tub is behind us. I feel confident."
Sebastien Bourdais' single qualifying lap saw him secure a satisfactory 1m 45.559s before returning to his pits. "There was no point in staying out any longer," he explained. "The car is going well and I was able to push hard at once to set a time straight away. Franck Montagny will start with our car and he will benefit from tyres that have barely been scrubbed."
The build-up to qualifying turned out to be quite eventful for the two Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs. Sebastien Bourdais went off on Tuesday morning's session and damaged his car's front and rear bodywork. Then, just hours later, the team encountered a problem with the tub of the No.07 car. "This tub had been repaired by our subcontractor following a crash last year," explained Bruno Famin, Peugeot Sport's Technical Director.
The repairs clearly weren't carried out properly, though, and we had to find a solution here on site with our own composites specialist. We will keep a close eye on the situation during the race."
The 200912 Hours of Sebring begins at 10.30am (GMT-4). Portugal's Pedro Lamy (Nicolas Minassian/Christian Klien) will start in the No.07 car and Frenchman Franck Montagny (Stephane Sarrazin/Sebastien Bourdais) will start with the No.08 sister car.