Apr 09 - Jun 09  : Peugeot Claims Pole Position at Le Mans

12 06 2009Peugeot Claims Pole Position at Le Mans

Peugeot at Le Mans

Peugeot Claims its Third Successive Pole at Le Mans


Peugeot will start this weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hours race from pole position for the third year in a row.

 

It was Team Peugeot Total’s Stéphane Sarrazin who put the No.8 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP (which he will share with Sébastien Bourdais and Franck Montagny) at the front of the field for the great race.

Saturday's race will start with four Peugeots in the top five places.

Nicolas Minassian ensured that the No.7 car he will share with Christian Klien and Pedro Lamy will start from third.

Australia’s David Brabham will start from fifth on the grid with team mates Marc Gené and Alex Wurz after Gené set the quick time, despite spending the entire qualifying session working only on race trim.

The three factory Peugeots are joined in the top five by the privateer Pescarolo-run No.17 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP.

For the first time in the history of the modern-day format at the Le Mans 24 Hours, teams only had one qualifying session this year.

While nobody would shun the honour of starting from pole position, the combination of the cancellation of the traditional preliminary test day and the wet conditions of Wednesday evening's free practice meant that teams still had a lot of work to get through in the dry conditions.

The principal mission facing the three crews of the Team Peugeot Total 908 HDi FAPs during the four-hour session was to gather key information about the different compounds of slick tyres they have available for this weekend's race.

According to Peugeot Sport Director Olivier Quesnel, qualifying was also a final opportunity for the teams to put the finishing touches to the set-ups of their respective machines.

"Given the all the work we still had to get through this evening, it was only after
11.30pm [half an hour before the end of the session] that I gave Stéphane the green light to go for a time,” he said.

“I told him he had three laps to try, and he took five, but I have no intention of holding that against him!

"It's obviously nice to see four Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs in the top-five places tonight, but we mustn't forget that this was just qualifying.

“The only thing that counts for me is Sunday afternoon's result. Even so, I would like to say a big bravo to Stéphane and to all the drivers, as well as to everyone in the team.

Sarrazin was pleased with the amount of work the No.8 crew had achieved in the session.

"It's a great result for all the team, but Franck, Sébastien and I worked first and foremost on the race set-up this evening. It was only when we were fully satisfied on that front that we tried for a time at the end," he said.

"Our objective now is to get away to a good start on Saturday afternoon and put in a good race."

According to Nicolas Minassian, the other two factory Peugeots did not get the opportunity to run the car with a qualifying set-up.

"Stéphane and I were on completely different strategies at the end," he said.

"The No.7 and No.9 Peugeots were in race trim and our focus was on preparing for the race – I've think we've found a good balance.

“Our Michelin tyres are nice and consistent, too, and we were able to post some very encouraging times with the race set-up."

The top six cars this evening were covered by less than three seconds around the 13.629km circuit, which suggests that spectators can look forward to an exciting show when the classic race kicks off at 11pm (AEST) on Saturday night.

One HD will begin its live coverage of the event from 10:30pm (AEST) – check your local guides for further details.

 


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