Peugeot sport gets ready for its biggest challenge
With the clock slowly ticking away until the start of the 2008 Le Mans 24 hour race, Peugeot has already demonstrated its commitment to win the race by dominating the official preliminary test-day.
Recording a 3m 22.222 second lap around the 8.47 mile long Le Mans circuit, Ste'phane Sarrazin lapped more than four seconds faster than the best time recorded in last year's race, clearly setting the bench mark for next week's official qualifying. The official preliminary test-day was, however, not all plain sailing for Peugeot, with constantly changing weather conditions making the day extremely difficult and a major accident involving the No7 car. In the accident Marc Gene' crashed into the wall at the Karting turn at almost 168 mph, destroying the car but due to the strength and design of the 908 HDi FAP suffered no more than a dislocated toe.
Peugeot's biggest challenge and its key objective for 2008 will, however, commence when this year's race starts on the 14th June, exactly 531 days since the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP first fired into life on the 31st December 2006.
Peugeot is, however, not new to the Le Mans 24 Hours, having already won the race twice, including the Peugeot 905 Evolution's historic victory with 1st, 2nd and 3rd places in 1993, the last time Peugeot competed in the race.
Now Team Peugeot Total will contest the race with three Peugeot 908 HDi FAP cars, red, blue and grey and a nine driver line up who between them have a total of:
- 393 Formula 1 Grand Prix starts
- 32 previous starts in the Le Mans 24 Hours
- 15 World Rally Championship rounds
- 44 National and International titles
The driver line up is:
- 908 HDi FAP No7 (Red): Marc Gene' / Nicolas Minassian / Jacques Villeneuve
- 908 HDi FAP No8 (Blue): Pedro Lamy / Ste'phane Sarrazin / Alexander Wurz
- 908 HDi FAP No9 (Grey): Christian Klien / Franck Montagny / Ricardo Zonta
"We have prepared extremely thoroughly for this monumental competition," underlines Michel Barge Director of Peugeot Sport. "We have raced at Sebring and in the three rounds of the 2008 Le Mans Series, including Spa where we fielded two complete driver line-ups, not to mention an extremely busy programme of testing since the flag came down on the 2007 Le Mans 24 Hours. Everyone at Peugeot Sport has done a tremendous job, but we've still got lots of work on our hands, including a car rebuild. But that's what Le Mans is all about, big ups and sometimes moments that are more difficult. Thankfully, Marc Gene' came out of his crash with nothing more than a dislocated toe but Ste'phane Sarrazin gratified us with an excellent time during the preliminary test. We are optimistic for the busy week ahead."
"We were let down by our lack of reactivity and strategy in last year's changing weather, so the varying conditions during the test-day was good practise for us" says Peugeot Sport's Technical Director Bruno Famin. "We worked on finding the most effective set-ups for the different tyre options, but we won't be able to salvage anything from the No7 car. That, therefore, means we will be forced to use some of the spares planned for the race."
It isn't the first time Team Peugeot Total has had to rise to a tough challenge, but once again the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP has shown real potential, aided by its new aerodynamics package, used for the first time at the test-day and the work carried out on reliability to ensure all the three cars can master the Le Mans 24 Hours.
- Three Peugeot 908 HDi FAP cars will contest the 2008 Le Mans 24 Hrs
- Ste'phane Sarrazin sets the fastest time in the official preliminary test-day
- Peugeot top the timing sheets with first, second and fourth places