PEUGEOT 1st AND 2nd; 7 LAPS CLEAR; THREE HOURS LEFT! At midday, with only three hours of racing remaining laps, the two front-running Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs now enjoy a cushion of seven laps after the No.1 Audi spent almost 15 minutes in its pits.
PEUGEOT 1st AND 2nd; 7 LAPS CLEAR; THREE HOURS LEFT!
At midday, with only three hours of racing remaining laps, the two front-running Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs now enjoy a cushion of seven laps after the No.1 Audi spent almost 15 minutes in its pits. The No.9 Peugeot in the hands of Gene/Wurz/Brabham continues to represent Team Peugeot Total's best chances of victory, with the No.8 sister car (Sarrazin/Montagny/Bourdais) providing rearguard support in second place. The No.7 car of Minassian/Lamy/Klien has patiently worked its way back up the order following its spate of problems in the early hours of the morning and is up to sixth overall. (Conditions: bright and sunny, with increasing cloud cover, and even a few drops of rain. 18C/21C)
Pit stops and incidents:
No.7 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP (Nicolas Minassian / Pedro Lamy / Christian Klien):
09.04: pit-stop (fuel and tyres). Klien takes over from Minassian.
09.37: pit-stop (fuel)
10.28: pit-stop (fuel)
11.11. pit-stop (fuel and tyres). Lamy takes over from Klien
11.54: pit-stop (fuel)
No.8 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP (Stephane Sarrazin / Franck Montagny / Sebastien Bourdais):
09.24: pit-stop (fuel)
09.40: pit-stop (fuel and tyres)
10.33: pit-stop (fuel)
11.19: pit-stop (fuel)
11.59: pit-stop (fuel and tyres). Bourdais takes over from Sarrazin
No.9 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP (Marc Gene / Alexander Wurz / David Brabham):
09.09: pit-stop (fuel and tyres). Wurz takes over from Brabham.
09.44: pit-stop (fuel and tyres)
10.32: pit-stop (fuel)
11.14: pit-stop (fuel)
11.58: pit-stop (fuel and tyres). Gene takes over from Wurz
The early morning picture essentially continues, with the No.9 and No.8 Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs still running first and second at the top of the order, and the No.7 car figuring just inside the top-10 as its drivers evaluate various solutions with a view to helping the two front-runners. Slowly but surely it picks its way up the leaderboard and is sixth at midday.
At 9.20am, the leading car (Peugeot No.9) reaches the 4000km mark (293 laps) Another crash (Aston Martin) at 9.36am prompts another safety car period and a round of unscheduled pit- stops to make full use of the neutralisation. Green flags are shown again at 9.53am, and battle resumes. The gap behind the top three (two Peugeots and chasing Audi) seems to have stabilized at around the 1m40s/1m50s mark, when the rumour breaks that rain is expected at around 11am...
Shortly before this time, at 10.45, the No.1 Audi passes the No.8 Peugeot to 'un-lap' itself. Three minutes later, rain is announced at Tertre Rouge and teams begin to prepare rain tyres, just in case. As the tension mounts, Sarrazin puts in a "quintuple" (4,5) stint in the No.8 car. Two unscheduled pit-stops (one very long) totalling almost a quarter of an hour for the No.1 Audi in the half- hours before midday will have taken some of the pressure off the two leading Peugeots.
David Brabham (No.9 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP): "I basically just did what I was told to do, i.e. save the car, keep to a given pace and keep it clean. All the way from the start we've essentially stuck to a given plan." Nicolas Minassian (No.7 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP): "My team-mates and I were obviously cruelly disappointment when our car was hit and we dropped out of contention very early on. But that's behind us, and our car is now essentially a laboratory car, validating solutions that might help the other two Peugeots. That's actually quite stimulating. It's true that I posted some quick times earlier this morning, but I've just been trying to keep to my own pace. It's my way of staying focused. Whenever I think that the team might just win this, it brings me out in goose pimples..."
Christian Klien (No.7 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP): "That wasn't a bad stint, and the balance of the No.7 car is perfect. My tyres were very consistent, too, but my windscreen was quite dirty and there were few places where there was a little rain. We need to keep up this sort of pace to the finish."