Eleven months after winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans the works Peugoet Sport squad is returning to racing in Europe, with three Peugeot 908 diesel coupes entered for the 1000km of Spa this weekend. A fourth car will be fielded by the ORECA squad.
However, since the team snapped Audi's streak of La Sarthe wins the team have conducted no less than eleven test sessions, working on basic set-up, reliability and tyre development for Michelin – the supplier for all four Peugeots. The team have also won the two major endurance race in the USA, beating Audi at Petit Le Mans last Autumn before starting 2010 with a 1-2 finish at the 12 Hours of Sebring in March.
Now the team are entering a full three car effort in what the team describe as a “full scale dress rehearsal” in their pre-race press release.
The race will be the first event that the Peugeots will carry the numbers one, two and three, with Anthony Davidson, Alex Wurz and Marc Gene – the winning drivers from Sebring – entrusted with the number one plate. Nicolas Minassian, Franck Montagny and Stephane Sarrazin will share the all-French number two car whilst their countrymen Sebastien Bourdais and Simon Pagenaud will join Pedro Lamy in the number three car.
These line-ups are the same as will defend their Le Mans victory on June 12/13, a central part of the team working towards La Sarthe.
“Our overriding objective is Le Mans,” says Peugeot Sport Director Olivier Quesnal. “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.”
“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.”
However, the team make one allowance this weekend, despite their desire to win next month.
“The three cars will run the same sprint-spec aerodynamic set-up we used at Sebring,” describes Bruno Famin, Peugeot Sport's Technical Director. “They consequently won't be full-Le Mans specification, the principal differences being at the front, which was also the case in 2009.”
Qualifying for the 1000km of Spa takes place tomorrow (Saturday) with Wurz, Sarrazin and Bourdais tasked with putting their respective cars on the grid.