Apr 09 - Jun 09  : Le Mans Beckons for Peugeot and David Brabham

10 06 2009Le Mans Beckons for Peugeot and David Brabham


Peugeot at Le Mans

This weekend stands out as a moment for Peugeot and Australia’s David Brabham, as they attack one of the world’s greatest races: the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Peugeot has won the event twice before, in 1992 and 1993 – where David’s brother Geoff Brabham led home a Peugeot 1-2-3.

Since Peugeot’s return to sportscar racing in 2007, the marque has won numerous races and even claimed the 2007 Le Mans Series title in its debut season.

However, Peugeot has yet to taste victory in the French classic since its return. This year Team Peugeot Sport has not contested the entire Le Mans Series, choosing to focus entirely on the Le Mans 24 Hour.

This has meant only two lead-in races: the Sebring 12 Hour race in the United States (where victory chances were dashed with a late puncture – resulting in a tight second place), and the Spa 1000km, which Peugeot won.

This narrow focus for 2009 also ensures that the Le Mans event takes on even greater importance for the Peugeot squad than previously.

The team has worked fervently on the traction control system in a bid to address the problems that the team suffered in the rain at the 2008 event.

Peugeot Sport’s Technical Director Bruno Famin says the team has had other areas to work on.

"To begin with, the ACO’s [the Le Mans race’s governing body] measures mean a drop in engine power because our car must run with a smaller air restrictor.

“The requirement for closed cars to have air conditioning to prevent the cockpit temperature from exceeding 32°C has called for the incorporation of a power take-off at the end of the gearbox to drive the compressor.

“We have also worked with our partner Bosch to optimise injection and combustion.

"We have paid special attention to aerodynamics, too. The regulations dictate a smaller rear wing – we have consequently had to revise the overall package in order to re-balance the car by reducing front downforce.

“In April, the ACO forced us to carry 30kg of ballast, and that has had a significant impact on the resistance of certain mechanical parts, notably suspension and brake components. Lastly, the fuel filler pipe is now narrower, and that will add almost three seconds to fuel stops."

The event stands out for David Brabham.

The 43 year-old is rated as one of the finest sportscar drivers of his time, having built an impressive CV of race wins and titles. These include a number of class victories and second outright at Le Mans – however, the youngest Brabham is yet to taste outright victory at the world’s greatest endurance event.

This is perhaps his best chance yet.

Olivier Quesnel, Director of Peugeot Sport, says the team has placed further emphasis on two key priority objectives.

"The first was to work on reliability by carrying out a high number of endurance simulation tests rather than give the team a busy race programme – I also wanted to make sure that the mechanics were raring to go and not too tired on their arrival at Le Mans.

“It was also important to complete the line-up with experienced drivers, which is why I went for David Brabham and Sébastien Bourdais whose passion for Le Mans and will to win are a secret for nobody."
The three 908 HDi FAP crews are brimming with talent and experience.

The No.7 908 HDi FAP drivers are:

- Former F1 driver and Le Mans Series Champion with Peugeot in 2007, Pedro Lamy (POR)
- BMW Sauber F1 test driver Christian Klien (AUT)
- Experienced Le Mans campaigner Nicolas Minassian (FRA) – who finished second for Peugeot in 2008

The No.8 908 HDi FAP drivers are:

- Four-time Champ Car Champion and current Toro Rosso F1 driver, Sebastien Bourdais (FRA)
- Former F1 test driver, Franck Montagny (FRA)
- Former F1 driver, Le Mans Series Champion with Peugeot in 2007 and tarmac rally star, Stephane Sarrazin (FRA)

The No.9 908 HDi FAP drivers are:

- Former F1 driver, Bathurst 1000 winner, Japanese GT Champion, US Professional Sports Car Champion, Sebring 12-Hour Champion and multiple Le Mans class winner, David Brabham (AUS)
- Former F1 driver and Ferrari test driver, Marc Gene (ESP)
- Former F1 driver and test driver, Alex Wurz (AUT)

There will also be a fourth 908 HDi FAP run by privateer team Pescarolo Sport, an obvious choice given Henri Pescarolo’s past association with Peugeot and his background as a living Le Mans legend.

For the first time, the Le Mans 24-Hour event will be shown live on free-to-air television, with One HD planning to broadcast up to ten hours of live coverage over the weekend.

The telecast will begin at 10:30pm this Saturday, 13th June.


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