THE N7 CAR LEADS FOR PEUGEOT After five and a half hours of racing, Team Peugeot Total leads the 2008 Le Mans 24 Hours after being momentarily dislodged from top-spot when the N8 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP of early pacesetters Lamy/Sarrazin/Wurz lost...
THE N7 CAR LEADS FOR PEUGEOT
After five and a half hours of racing, Team Peugeot Total leads the 2008 Le Mans 24 Hours after being momentarily dislodged from top-spot when the N8 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP of early pacesetters Lamy/Sarrazin/Wurz lost six laps following a gear selection problem. The N9 car (Montagny/Klien/Zonta) also lost a little ground when it was forced to make an unscheduled pit-stop to repair a faulty headlamp, leaving the N2 Audi to emerge ahead until the N7 car (Gene/Minassian/Villeneuve) recovered top-spot at 7.15pm. At the stroke of 8pm, a sequence of pit-stops for the top-three runners meant that the time-sheets were officially (albeit briefly) topped by the N9 car. However, once the order had settled again, Jacques Villeneuve found himself back in front. with Montagny chasing hard in the N9 car.
Conditions: dry and bright. 20C (18C)
Just after the two-hour mark, Team Peugeot Total had something of a hectic half hour as first the N8 car had to be pushed into the garage for work on a gear selection problem box which Sarrazin reported at the very end of his stint. The car rejoined the race six laps later in 31st place. However, with Wurz and Lamy taking turns at the wheel, it had moved up to 17th spot by the four-hour mark.
Meanwhile, the N9 car was forced to make an unscheduled stop to repair a faulty headlight (change of front cover), and was then called in for a drive-through penalty for failing to comply immediately with the race direction's instruction to stop to repair the light.
These incidents left the N7 car as the best-placed Peugeot runner on the track in 2nd place, eventually regaining the lead for the French make when he rejoined the track ahead after a pit-stop at 19.15.
The N8 car continued to move up the order thanks to some extremely fast laps, including a 3m20.931s on Lap 55, the fastest lap of the race so far, and the second fastest lap at Le Mans since Jackie Oliver (1971, 3m18.4s). Montagny then edged a little closer to the outright record with a 3m20.668s, then a 3m20.600 at 8.06pm as he homed in on car N7.
Marc GENE (N7 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP): "We've only stopped one more time than our rivals but we're perhaps two or three seconds a lap quicker in general. Our car is quick, and very nicely balanced. It's shaping up to be a great race. I preferred not to take any risks when there was traffic about, but I pushed whenever the track was clear."
Stephane SARRAZIN (N8 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP): "My first run in the car went perfectly and we were in the lead when I handed over to Alexander. It was then, though, that I realised there was a problem with the gearshift selection. It's such a shame because it was going so well..."