One year on from recording a 1-2 finish and after twelve months of relentless preparation Peugeot Sport are ready to defend their Le Mans 24 Hours crown.
Since the checkered flag fell on the car of David Brabham, Marc Gene and Alex Wurz for an emotional victory the French squad have barely stopped working with their Le Mans challenger on and off the track. As the three drivers went their separate ways their car began a “lap of hounour” only finally returning to Peugeot's Velizy workshop three months after the mid-summer date at La Sarthe.
The team ended 2009 on a high on track, taking a victory at Petit Le Mans – one of three races the team have contested since Le Mans as they continue to develop the 908 HDi FAP.
“Our work initially focused on adapting the 908 HDi FAP to the 2010 regulations, which essentially meant the engine and bodywork,” explains Peugeot Sport’s Technical Director, Bruno Famin. “The only aerodynamic change is the result of having to adjust to this year’s new engine power levels.”
“All the things that gave us trouble in 2009 have been looked at, too, while we haven’t eased up in our ongoing efforts to improve reliability. This is the 908 HDi FAP’s fourth and final year of competition. It is an outstanding car and I think we can look forward to an incredibly thrilling Le Mans 24 Hours.”
Peugeot's final preparations, also ended in victory, at the 1000km of Spa last year, a race the team expect to have been an accurate pre-curser to Le Mans, defining the six hour race in Belgium as a “long, unrelenting sprint during which the slightest error of misjudgement could well prove very costly.”
Since that race all three 908s have been stripped, inspected and them rebuilt ahead of scrutineering for Le Mans, taking place (as tradition dictates) in the city itself.
“When race week begins, we will use the early part of Wednesday and Thursday’s free and qualifying practice sessions to work on the set-ups of our three cars and to evaluate fuel consumption and tyre performance,” says Famin. “While at the same time gathering as much of the indispensable data we will need for the weekend as possible. After Wednesday evening’s run, the engines will be changed in order to spare them for the race.”
“I am expecting an extremely intense race because I am sure that our main rival [Audi] has evolved, as we saw at Spa,” admits Peugeot Sport director Olivier Quesnel. “And we mustn’t overlook the other cars, either. The Aston Martins, for example, enjoy greater top speed compared with last year, and that can sometimes force our drivers to take risks when overtaking. This is our car’s fourth year of racing, so, in this respect, we see ourselves as the challengers again, despite last year’s winâ€¦”
Peugeot Sport line-ups for 2010 Le Mans 24 Hours
No.1 – Anthony Davidson/Marc Gene/Alex Wurz
No.2 – Nicolas Minassian/Franck Montagny/Stephane Sarrazin
No.3 – Sebastien Bourdais/Pedro Lamy/Simon Pagenaud