Jul 09 - Sep 09  : Peugeot Repeats Le Mans 1-2 Success

28 09 2009Peugeot Repeats Le Mans 1-2 Success

Peugeot wins Petit Lemans

The Peugeot 908 HDi FAP wins at Road Atlanta

Peugeot Repeats Le Mans 1-2 Success

Peugeot has claimed its second consecutive major endurance race by winning the Petit Le Mans at a soggy Road Atlanta circuit in the United States last weekend.

After winning the famous Le Mans 24-Hour race in June this year, Road Atlanta was the venue for a return to racing for the Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs.

After several days of searing heat, the Georgian weather took a turn for the worse on race day – a cocktail of showers, storms and flooding causing the race to be interrupted shortly before the halfway point, with the No.08 Peugeot of Montagny and Sarrazin ahead of the No.07 machine of Minassian and Lamy.

In the end, the organisers chose not to send the cars back out, handing Peugeot its second one-two finish of the year following its triumph in the Le Mans 24 Hours in June.

Not once in the past 11 years has the 10-hour Petit Le Mans endurance race unfolded and ended in such appalling conditions.

Following the intense heat that marked qualifying, the heavens opened early on race day, prompting the warm-up session to be delayed, and the cars were forced to line up on the grid immediately after the handful of warm-up laps that were actually completed.

This situation didn't make life easy for Team Peugeot Total which was unable to fine-tune its wet weather set-up prior to the start.

The early part of the race soon saw the two French cars lose their lead and they were unable to match the pace of the Audis which took control of proceedings.

The track then dried out a little on a couple of occasions in the course of the first hour, giving Pedro Lamy and Nicolas Minassian in the No.07 car a chance to close to within a handful of seconds of McNish's pace-setting Audi.

Meanwhile, the No.08 sister car of Franck Montagny and Stéphane Sarrazin – which had trailed the leaders by as much as two laps at one point – succeeded in making up ground thanks to a carefully devised strategy.

A number of safety car periods and the return of dry conditions enabled the two Peugeot crews to take the battle to the McNish/Capello Audi, leading to a thrilling scrap and some breathtaking passing.

A further safety-car intervention, the return of torrential rain and a spin by McNish put the seal on the final positions when the race was red flagged for safety reasons after 4 hours and 48 minutes.

The teams remained in the starting blocks for almost four hours as they waited for the re-start, but in the end the organisers chose not to send the cars back out…

"We started the race with a low downforce set-up which made my first stint very difficult indeed,” said Stéphane Sarrazin of the winning No.08 Peugeot.

“However, as soon as we switched to slicks, we were able to revert to a qualifying pace. It's nice to win after finishing second so often!"

Team mate Franck Montagny believed the organisers made the right decision to shorten the race.

"It all feels very weird, but I think the organisers were right to stop the race, because the conditions really were dangerous.

“We had an excellent strategy and our car was very fast once we were able to run on slick tyres."

Peugeot Sport director Olivier Quesnel said his team’s main aim for the weekend was testing.

"We came here with the aim of using this race as a work session, while at the same time endeavouring to win.

“The entire team functioned very well and our drivers didn't make a single mistake despite the awesome conditions.

“We really made a big effort to win today and we can now look back at a great record in 2009 thanks to our one-two at Le Mans, our win at Spa, our second place at Sebring and our performance here at Road Atlanta today.

“Not to mention the all-Peugeot podium on January's Rallye Monte-Carlo and the Drivers' and Manufacturers' titles we have just secured in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge thanks to subsidiary-run programmes."

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