Circuit de la Sarthe
- Sarrazin on provisional pole
- Peugeot leads the way on Wednesday
- Team pleased with practice & qualifying
Peugeot Moves Into Contention
The six hours of track time scheduled for this Wednesday provided confirmation that this 79th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be very hotly disputed. In line with the scheduled programme, Team Peugeot Total concentrated on working on the set-up of the three Peugeot 908 during free practice. In the first qualifying session, Stéphane Sarrazin demonstrated part of the team’s potential by placing the no.8 in provisional pole position, almost a second ahead of his nearest rival.
It is only provisional, of course, but I’m still pleased.
Free practice: Peugeot completes its programme
The three Peugeot 908s immediately headed out on track once the session got underway, each with a specific programme to complete. Work was focussed on one main area, the tyres. Building on the solid base defined during the test day in April of this year, the three Peugeot 908s adopted a good pace, despite the dirty track.
With a time of 3’28’’536, recorded by Sébastien Bourdais, the Peugeot 908 no.9 ended free practice in third place in the standings, ahead of the no.7 car (Anthony Davidson). The no.8 car (Nicolas Minassian) was sixth, just in front of Team Oreca's Peugeot 908 HDi FAP. With six cars separated by 1.1 seconds, free practice set the tone for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, which looks set to be very close.
Qualifying 1: 908 no.8 on provisional pole
Whilst pursuing its technical programme with all three cars, Team Peugeot Total decided to try and set a fast time in the second part of the session with the no.8.
With around half an hour of the session remaining, Stéphane Sarrazin grabbed provisional pole position with a lap of 3’27’’033. Nobody could get close the time of the French driver this evening. The threetime Polesitter at Le Mans is now in with a great chance of claiming a fifth consecutive pole position for Peugeot. With two two-hour sessions scheduled for tomorrow evening, however, the final positions are far from decided. At the end of this session, the Peugeot no.7 held fifth place and the no.8 finished in sixth.
Bruno Famin, Technical Director: “The track was dirty and green – not rubbered in yet – during free practice, so we mainly worked on tyres and then on process, mechanical and aerodynamic setup. We completed qualifying in accordance with our programme. Everything went as planned, so we moved onto quicker runs towards the end of the session. There is a long way to go before securing pole, there’s still another four hours of qualifying tomorrow, but what’s done is done!”
No.8: Nicolas Minassian (FRA) – Franck Montagny (FRA) – Stéphane Sarrazin (FRA)
Pos.: 1st - 3’27’’033, lap time recorded by Stéphane Sarrazin.
Stéphane Sarrazin: “The team have faith in me and keep giving me the chance to fight it out for pole position. It is only provisional, of course, but I’m still pleased. It has been a good first day’s work. Nicolas Minassian did some long runs, whilst Franck Montagny fine-tuned the set-up. We have a very sound base for the race.”
No.7: Anthony Davidson (GBR) – Marc Gené (ESP) – Alexander Wurz (AUT)
Pos.: 5th - 3’28’’796, lap time recorded by Alexander Wurz.
Marc Gené: “I couldn’t get a clear run; I was interrupted on my flying lap by an accident. We have another two sessions tomorrow to improve our position on the track. I just hope that the weather doesn't play up.”
No.9: Sébastien Bourdais (FRA) - Pedro Lamy (POR) – Simon Pagenaud (FRA)
Pos.: 6th - 3’29’’466, lap time recorded by Sébastien Bourdais.
Simon Pagenaud: “Overall, it's a good performance. We aren't overly focussed on qualifying. We have a sound and consistent car for the race, and that’s the main thing. Driving at night is always important, so it’s good to be able to get used to driving at high speeds with limited lighting.”