No-risk Le Mans preparations for Peugeot
A full-scale dress rehearsal for Peugeot Sport
With just a month to go before the 2010 Le Mans 24 Hours, Team Peugeot Total is putting the finishing touches to its preparations which started the moment the flag came down on last year’s race. The final phase of this build-up process is the second round of the Le Mans Series at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, where the three Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs and their complete driver line-ups will get in their last full-scale dress rehearsal ahead of June’s clash.
Preparations for Le Mans will have included 11 tests and two races
Since winning last year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, everyone at Team Peugeot Total has been working flat out in their bid to secure repeat success on June 13. Their programme has included no fewer than 11 test sessions which have enabled the squad to work on the car’s set-up and endurance ability, as well as on tyre development. The schedule also featured a visit to the USA for March’s 12 Hours of Sebring where the team’s grand slam weekend (pole position, one-two finish and fastest race lap) saw it collect a great deal of valuable data during what is widely seen as one of the calendar’s toughest races. Peugeot’s emphatic result in Florida – which brought the carmaker a third consecutive one-two finish – provided the team with a big boost. The programme has continued unabated, however, with a view to achieving the highest possible level of excellence, since the opposition Peugeot Sport faces at Le Mans in 2010 promises to be fiercer than ever. Indeed, the signs are that this year’s Le Mans is going to be an unrelenting 24-hour long sprint. The second and last competitive outing for Team Peugeot Total as the big weekend approaches takes it to Spa-Francorchamps which has attracted a very similar entry to the one we shall see in La Sarthe the following month.
Simulation work in race conditions
For the very first time, the three factory Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs will be racing with numbers one, two and three, while a fourth, privately-run car will be in the hands of Oreca.
The line-ups of the three factory Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs competing at Spa-Francorchamps are:
— N°1 908 HDi FAP (blue mirrors): Anthony DAVIDSON (GBR) / Marc GENE (ESP) / Alex WURZ (AUT)
— N°2 908 HDi FAP (white mirrors): Nicolas MINASSIAN (FRA) / Franck MONTAGNY (FRA) / Stéphane SARRAZIN (FRA)
— N°3 908 HDi FAP (red mirrors): Sébastien BOURDAIS (FRA) / Pedro LAMY (POR) / Simon PAGENAUD (FRA)
It has already been decided that Alexander Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Sébastien Bourdais will be entrusted with targeting pole position on the Saturday, while Marc Gené, Franck Montagny and Pedro Lamy have been nominated to start the 1,000km race.
"Our overriding objective is Le Mans," states Peugeot Sport Director Olivier Quesnel. "This means that everything upstream of the French race is preparation. The danger we face at Spa is that all the teams will be there, theoretically in Le Mans trim… and consequently ready. The message for everyone at Team Peugeot Total is clear: we have no intention of taking any risks on the track in Belgium. We do not want to jeopardize our build-up, and winning at all costs is not part of that programme. Obviously, if we do win, we will be delighted, but victory is not a major concern. With four weeks to go before Le Mans, we mustn’t damage any of the cars. Our technical team needs to arrive in Le Mans in tip-top shape and they can do without the added fatigues of having to make repairs. Our aim at Spa-Francorchamps is to fine-tune everybody’s respective roles, which include our pit-stop routine, refuelling, tyre changes and driver changes, which collectively promise to be decisive. We also need to work on our strategy, while our drivers will need to familiarise themselves with the 2010 field, especially with regard to the traffic and the sometimes perilous task of overtaking."
"The three cars will run the same sprint-spec aerodynamic set-up we used at Sebring," continues Bruno Famin, Peugeot Sport’s Technical Director. "They consequently won’t be full-Le Mans versions, the principal difference being the front cover, which was also the case in 2009. We will, however, be running the latest 2010 tyres which we developed in association with Michelin over the winter break. Our aim in Belgium will be to fine-tune one or two technical details. As is usually the case for short races, the cars will not be completely new, and each car will be running parts that have a sufficient life expectancy to cover practice and the race. The 1,000km de Spa-Francorchamps is above all a chance for the mechanics, engineers and ourselves to work in a race situation."
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