Catalunya: Michelin qualifying report

PEUGEOT AND MICHELIN SECURE THE SEASON'S FIRST POLE POSITION Peugeot and Michelin profited from the first qualifying session of the 2008 Le Mans Series to claim pole position in Barcelona, Spain, today. It was Frenchman Stephane Sarrazin who set...

PEUGEOT AND MICHELIN SECURE THE SEASON'S FIRST POLE POSITION

Peugeot and Michelin profited from the first qualifying session of the 2008 Le Mans Series to claim pole position in Barcelona, Spain, today. It was Frenchman Stephane Sarrazin who set the fastest lap close to the end of the session, just ahead of the time posted by his Peugeot-Michelin team-mate Marc Gene. Third was the N1 Audi Sport-Michelin. The LMP2 category was won by Merksteijn/Verstappen's Porsche RS Spyder, while mere tenths of a second split the Team Modena car and the Luc Alphand Aventures Corvette in the GT1 class.

Matthieu Bonardel, Michelin Director of Four-wheel Competition

"We profited from today's track temperatures of more than 35C to evaluate the performance of our LMP1 tyres in hot conditions. The teams tested both soft and medium tyres, and some even ran different compounds left and right, since the left-hand tyres tend to suffer more here at Barcelona. We were pleased to see the competitiveness of both the diesel and petrol cars in this category. Unusually, we saw some petrol cars lapping in times that weren't far off those of the diesel-powered machines.

"Although the weather for qualifying was hotter than that forecast for tomorrow's race, we are confident with the tyre choices. Different teams have gone for different strategies and they will fine-tune them as the race progresses. The first part of the race promises to be the toughest on the tyres.

"We used the free practice sessions and long runs to check the performance and consistency of our products over one stint. That has left us feeling even more confident than we were last year concerning the possibility of double-stinting in tomorrow's race and, indeed, over the full season.

"In the LMP2 category, we tried different combinations of soft and medium compounds, running different rubber either front and rear or left and right. The teams also profited from practice to find the best balance to ensure lasting performance from the left-hand tyres which take the brunt at this circuit. It's a case of trying to find the ideal compromise, that is to say a solution that will cover two stints without detracting from performance. There's a chance that certain LMP2s will mix it with the LMP1s which shows that the new cars in the category are competitive on Michelin tyres.

"Our range of tyres for the GT1 category is known territory. There are some very competitive cars. And while this track is hard on the prototypes, it is even tougher for the GT runners.

"We face a fairly difficult challenge in GT2 since our partners in this category use commercially available, customer competition tyres. There was little chance of threatening the cars equipped with the development tyres of our rivals in qualifying today, so we are notably counting on the consistency of our products. We hope that the different teams and cars that have chosen to race on our customer competition tyres will benefit from good performance over a single stint tomorrow, that is to say around 40 laps."

Stephane Sarrazin, Peugeot:

"It's been a real pleasure running at this circuit ever since we arrived here in Barcelona. We made some small changes to the set-up to improve the balance a little and the result is very encouraging for the race. Michelin has worked hard since the start of our programme together. Last year's tyres were good, but the tyres we have here are fantastic. Along with the other teams, we took part in Michelin's tests at Jerez this winter to help them look at new products. Since then they have progressed even further and they turned up with incredible tyres this weekend. The different solutions work well and they hardly fade at all; we can push without losing grip. Michelin has a very methodical approach which clearly pays!"

-credit: michelin

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About this article
Series European Le Mans
Drivers Marc Gene , Stéphane Sarrazin , Luc Alphand