A rewarding qualifying session Team Peugeot Total, which is at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend to prepare for June's Le Mans 24 Hours, has secured first, third and seventh places on Sunday morning's grid. 'Winter testing'! Since the beginning...
A rewarding qualifying session
Team Peugeot Total, which is at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend to prepare for June's Le Mans 24 Hours, has secured first, third and seventh places on Sunday morning's grid.
Since the beginning of the week, there has been a distinctly wintry feel about the weather here in the Belgian Ardennes, and that has made the work of the technicians and engineers somewhat complex and fastidious. The recent cocktail of rain and sleet at least cleared up in time for this afternoon's qualifying session, however.
Pole position for Sebastien Bourdais
Although running to different strategies and with different technical specifications, every one of the three factory Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs contested this afternoon's qualifying session with an equal chance of securing pole position. Sebastien Bourdais was the first driver out in the No.3 car for a run of two flying laps, the second of which saw him post a promising 1m 57.884s which put his Peugeot 908 HDi FAP at the top of the provisional order. Next out was Alexander Wurz in the No.1 machine, but the Austrian was hampered by traffic during his flying lap and could manage no better than a 1m 59.989s. Last but not least, it was Stephane Sarrazin's turn to take out the No.2 car, and his bid was rewarded with third on the grid thanks to a time of 1m 59.421s.
Preparation for Le Mans
As mentioned above, tomorrow's 1,000-kilometre race will serve as a full-scale dress rehearsal ahead of Le Mans for Team Peugeot Total which will have some 700 guests from the brand's French and Belgian sales networks watching from the grandstands.
Pedro Lamy has been nominated to start in the No.3 Peugeot HDi FAP when action gets underway tomorrow at 11:30am, while Franck Montagny will start in the No.2 car from third on the grid. Franck will only be sharing his 908 with Stephane Sarrazin, though, since Nicolas Minassian has withdrawn from the race because of intercostal pains. Marc Gene will start in the No.1 car from seventh on the grid.
Sebastien BOURDAIS: "I am very happy for the team. We didn't do much running in dry conditions ahead of qualifying here at Spa because of the poor weather. As a result, we had to make a compromise tyre choice which finally played out in our favour. The car is nicely balanced and I was able to profit from a clear lap. I think it will be an advantage to start from pole position to avoid the risk of getting caught up in a tangle at the start, and we will then try to work through the rest of our programme ahead of Le Mans."
Stephane SARRAZIN: "I suffered quite badly from understeer during my first flying lap, and I then found myself caught in traffic next time round. Taking all that into account, I am pleased to be starting from the second row tomorrow, although Franck and I will be alone in the No.2 car."
Alexander WURZ: "We were running three different strategies. Ours turned out to be the least competitive, but that's what it takes to prepare for Le Mans. Tomorrow, we will need to play it particularly carefully, especially at the start so as not to get caught up in any early incidents."
Nicolas MINASSIAN: "I hurt my ribs while doing fitness training at Clairefontaine, near Paris, last week. I was troubled by intercostal pain during yesterdays' free practice run and, in order to spare myself for Le Mans, I thought it would be preferable not to contest tomorrow's race. Unlike me, Stephane and Franck didn't race at Sebring, so this weekend will be a chance for them to get some extra kilometres under their belts."
Olivier QUESNEL: "The team is doing a good job. Since our arrival here, our job hasn't been facilitated by the changing weather and extremely cold temperatures. The forecasts aren't very optimistic for the race, either. It will be a case of taking as few risks as possible, and we won't hesitate to drop a place rather than risk an accident. The chief objective for everyone in the team continues to be the Le Mans 24 Hours. We will consequently focus on our refuelling stops and race strategy tomorrow, while the drivers will concentrate on managing the traffic."