AN ASSERTIVE START FOR PEUGEOT AT LE MANS Team Peugeot Total has pulled clear at the top of the provisional leaderboard and fills the top-two places with the No8 and No9 908 HDi FAPs after the first three hours of racing. Their closest ...
AN ASSERTIVE START FOR PEUGEOT AT LE MANS
Team Peugeot Total has pulled clear at the top of the provisional leaderboard and fills the top-two places with the No8 and No9 908 HDi FAPs after the first three hours of racing. Their closest challenger (No1) is almost two minutes down. Peugeot runners even monopolised the provisional podium for the early part of the race. However, damage resulting from an unfortunate tangle between the No7 and No17 cars saw it lose almost half an hour and drop to the back of the leaderboard. The No7 Peugeot is nonetheless currently accredited with the fastest race lap (Lap 2).
Franck Montagny leads the field away in the pole-winning No8 Peugeot and shrugs off pressure from No1 Audi through first corners to pull clear. Lamy then passes McNish down Hunaudi?res to take 2nd. On Lap 2, Wurz in turn passes the best-placed Audi. Just five minutes into the race, Team Peugeot Total monopolises the top three and pulls gradually clear. Lamy establishes a benchmark fastest race lap (3m25.028s, Lap 2).
The first round of stops turns this initial order on its head, however, when the No17 car hits the No7 Peugeot as the latter is pulling away. Lamy's car suffers rear-left damage but has to complete a full lap until it can pit again for repairs. Almost 5 mins lost on that lap. Debris from his car prompts the safety cars to be released.
The combination of pit-stops and positions of the safety cars sees No8 emerge with a lead of 1? mins over two Audis when action resumes some 15 mins later. Gen? (No9) is 6th, but regains 4th after Lap 19. No7 rejoins 26 mins after pitting (Minassian) in 51st place after repairs (rear-left corner, flat bottom, crash box, left-hand oil radiator, turbo, particulate filter, left sidepod). No9 moves to 3rd after 4.30pm pit stops, and gets past the No2 into 2nd place on Lap 31. Peugeot 1st and 2nd at 2-hour mark.
The two best-placed Peugeots (No8, No9) profit from the third hour to pull clear and are respectively 2m30s and 22s clear of their closest chasers at 6pm. The No7 car has meanwhile moved up from 51st to 31st place.
Olivier Quesnel (Director, Peugeot Sport): "There was a misunderstanding between the No7 car and the No17 car which should have pitted a lap later. We asked Pedro to stop but he didn't hear and he had to complete a full lap with the car very badly damaged at the rear."