Peugeot’s Outlook

October 2, 2010

Peugeot’s Outlook

October 2, 2010

The No. 07 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP. Photo credit: Rick Dole for Michelin North America

Heading into Saturday’s American Le Mans Series season finale, the 13th annual Petit Le Mans, Peugeot has the prime starting positions with first and second on the grid in their 908 HDi FAP closed-top diesel prototypes. Their strike record is one for two at Petit, winning last year’s rain-shortened event, while losing the 2008 race right near the end.

Polesitter Anthony Davidson in the No. 07 talked a bit on Thursday about his outlook and expectations going into the weekend. He admitted a bit of concern for being in this car at this track for the first time, and as fate would have it, misfortune struck toward the end of the session with a late accident.

“Compared to a (Ferrari 550) Maranello, it can be quite intimidating in a P1 car!” Davidson said. “It’s completely different in this car from the speeds to the cornering.”

While the accident caused Peugeot’s mechanics to perform a minor miracle in repairing the car overnight, Davidson was able to repay them with pole position on Friday.

“It was the first time I crashed the car like that,” he admitted. “I probably only had about 20 laps behind my belt here before last night. It was getting dark and I got a bit too far out trying to drive around the outside of a GT car, I got too far into the grass and didn’t really know where I was going and drove at speed straight off into the barrier. The guys were up all night last night putting it back together so my hats off and big thanks to them for getting the car sorted out.”

Davidson, Marc Gene and Alexander Wurz seek their second ALMS win in as many starts after starting the year with victory in the 12 Hours of Sebring.

In the team’s sister car, the French pairing of Stephane Sarrazin and Franck Montagny are back to defend their win last year, and are joined in the quest by Portuguese pilot Pedro Lamy.

Franck Montagny, No. 08 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP. Photo credit: Rick Dole for Michelin North America

“It’s not a big change, as we’re all used to working together,” Montagny said. “It doesn’t change much, there’s a little less time in the car. Last year we realized we were cutting it close with just two.”

Montagny’s known as a bit of a speed demon, and is one of the fastest and slightly underrated drivers out there. Asked where he channels an extra tenth of a second or two, and he’ll merely shrug his shoulders.

A fellow flier behind the wheel, Sarrazin explained his outlook and elaborated on the maximized performance of the car over four years.

“Here you have to be patient but have confidence,” Sarrazin said. “After four years of development, everything has been maximized … the engine, downforce levels, mechanical elements. Peugeot is working so hard to get this win and (Intercontinental Cup) championship.”

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