Circuit de la Sarthe
After 12 Hours Peugeots Well-Placed At Half-Way Stage
As the race moves deep into the Le Mans night, the Peugeot 908s have passed the half-way stage. After twelve hours of intense racing, including safety car periods totalling over 3.5 hours, all three Team Peugeot Total cars are readying themselves for the final push. The second-placed no.9 is now less than a minute behind the leader. The no.7 is third and the no.8 is fourth.
After coming onto the track at 22:41, the safety car finally comes off at 01:02. As the green flags get the race underway again, the three Peugeot 908s are nose to tail, with Franck Montagny (no.8) ahead of Sébastien Bourdais (no.9) and Alexander Wurz (no.7). After having spent his entire stint with the safety car out, Franck Montagny hands over the car to Stéphane Sarrazin at 01:12, leaving Bourdais and Wurz to fight it out for second position.
The pace increases significantly in the night. Sébastien Bourdais is regularly the fastest driver on the track, which enables him to close the gap to the leader whilst also giving himself a little breathing space in front of Alexander Wurz. The fifth-placed Peugeot 908 HDi of Team Oreca, driven by Loïc Duval, goes off into the barriers at 02:17, damaging a front right half-axle. The driver nonetheless manages to get the car back to the pits, where the mechanics spend fourteen minutes repairing the damage.
Our role is now to push on, but the night is not over yet!
Olivier Quesnel, Peugeot Sport Director: “There have been a lot of incidents in the first half of the race. Our rivals have adopted a quicker pace than us, but two of their three cars have crashed. As long as the drivers escape unscathed, then racing can resume. We are in a strong position. Our role is now to push on, but the night is not over yet! Last year, our problems started in the early hours of the morning, so we mustn't get carried away.”
Sébastien Bourdais (Peugeot no.9): “Things appear to be turning in our favour. Our car is much more effective on soft tyres. It’s now three cars versus one, so it’s up to us to put them under pressure. We have to make life difficult for them and force them into making a mistake. I made up thirty seconds, we’ll have to see how things go now.”
Franck Montagny (Peugeot no.8): “Lapping behind the safety car, the car spends most of the time in first gear. You really have to pay attention to the temperature of the engine. I just had to hang in there until the safety car period was finished. It was far from straightforward, but in the end, it meant we clawed back some time on the others so it's not such a bad thing.”