Peugeot targets two straight Petit Le Mans wins
Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, Round 2
Following an emphatic success three weeks ago at Silverstone, Team Peugeot Total travels to North America at the top of the provisional Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC) standings. After getting off to a flying start in the English countryside, this new championship’s second port of call will be the 1,000-mile Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta, Georgia (USA).
After an inaugural clash in Europe, the 2010 ILMC moves on to the United States for the second round of the series. Peugeot succeeded in becoming the first name on the new competition’s list of winners thanks to a dominating run in terms of performance, reliability, fuel consumption, strategy and commitment that saw it take the spoils at Silverstone. That race, which was marked by an exciting duel between Anthony Davidson and Allan McNish, ended in a resounding one-two for Peugeot thanks to the Oreca-run 908 HDi FAP. It also took the French firm straight into the lead of the ILMC with a 26-point advantage over its rival.
"I am sure the racing will get closer and closer," predicts Technical Director Bruno Famin. "The duel we saw at Silverstone is likely to keep us holding our breath again at Road Atlanta, this time over a distance of 1,000 miles or perhaps 10 hours, because the races in the USA generally deliver plenty of drama. For one, the safety car and wheel change regulations are different, so we will need to be on our toes throughout and quick to adapt our strategy if necessary. It is this sort of training we have always sought to gain in the USA to prepare for Le Mans. This time round, with the race counting towards the ILMC, we will obviously also be targeting another win in order to extend our early lead."
Peugeot: targeting two straight Petit Le Mans wins
The 2009 visit to Road Atlanta produced a one-two finish for Peugeot, even though the race was shortened by several hours because of torrential rain. The two factory 908 HDi FAPs entered for this year’s Petit Le Mans will be looking to repeat that success against what promises to be stiff opposition. In addition to its main rival, Peugeot will also be up against the USA’s top endurance specialists for whom this fixture will be the last round of the 2010 American Le Mans Series.
A recap of the regulations
Unlike European races, including the Le Mans 24 Hours, the pre-warming of tyres is not permitted, but four mechanics are authorised to change wheels at the same time, instead of two. Access to the pit lane is closed when the safety car is out, and the American races only run one such vehicle, compared with two in Europe. Given the high number of safety car interruptions you tend to see at Road Atlanta (4km), which is such an atypical circuit, that regulation is one of the most complex to work with. That said, the Georgian venue always produces exciting fights, with just four seconds splitting the top two cars at the chequered flag in 2008 after 10 hours of racing!
Two factory Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs + six drivers
— N°07 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP: Anthony DAVIDSON (GBR) – Marc GENE (ESP) – Alexander WURZ (AUT)
Anthony DAVIDSON: "I really enjoyed working with Nicolas Minassian at Silverstone. We came away with a great result and it would be fantastic to repeat that win with Alex and Marc with whom I won the 12 Hours of Sebring at the beginning of the year. I have a little experience of Road Atlanta after racing there in 2003. It’s a great event. I can’t wait."
Marc GENE: "I haven’t raced the 908 since June, but I’ve clocked up so many kilometres in the car over the past four years that I feel very confident. I don’t know the circuit. Practice starts on Wednesday, so that will be a decisive part of our work schedule."
Alexander WURZ: "The last time I drove a 908, I was chasing to recover the lead at Le Mans! I hope to be on the same sort of pace at Road Atlanta, but without being compelled to catch someone up! I have never raced there and I don’t really know what to expect. I’ve been looking at onboard footage and at the team’s data. Otherwise, I will have to wait until I get there, although I know I will be able to count on the help of our team-mates in the N°08 car who know the circuit well."
— N°08 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP: Pedro LAMY (POR) – Franck MONTAGNY (FRA) – Stéphane SARRAZIN (FRA)
Pedro LAMY: "Since Le Mans, I have contested three races, but none in the 908. I can’t wait to get in it again, especially at Road Atlanta which is a real driver’s circuit. This is the first time I have been paired up with Franck, while it’s great to be back with Stéphane. I think both cars have very strong driver line-ups."
Franck MONTAGNY: "I want to win at least one race with the 908 this year! But I’m going to have to hurry, because there are only two races left! I would especially like to win Petit Le Mans because the atmosphere is so special. It’s unique, and I like that!"
Stéphane SARRAZIN: "Franck and I won here together last year. I have very fond memories of that result because it stemmed a sequence of second places! We will obviously be out to finish first again this time round, especially since the car is more competitive than ever, both in the dry and in the wet. It’s also nice to be teaming up again with Pedro Lamy who was my team-mate in 2007 and 2008."
Petit Le Mans, Road Atlanta (local time/EDT)
Wednesday, September 29
16:15 – 17:15: free practice 1
17:15 – 17:45: free practice 2
Thursday, September 30
10:00 – 11:00: free practice 3
14:35 – 15:35: free practice 4
19:00 – 21:00: night-time free practice
Friday, October 1
09:30 – 10:30: free practice 6
15:50 – 16:15: Qualifying (21:50 – 22:15 CET)
Saturday, October 2
09:15 – 09:40: warm-up
11:15: start of Petit Le Mans, Road Atlanta (1,000 miles or 10 hours) (17:15 CET)
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