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Peugeot claims third straight pole at LeMans

Beat Audi again, but can they win race?
Thursday, June 11, 2009

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Peugeot 908
This evening's thrilling qualifying session saw Team Peugeot Total's Stéphane Sarrazin put the N°8 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP (Sarrazin/Montagny/Bourdais) at the sharp end of the grid for the Le Mans 24 Hours for the third year in a row. Saturday's race will in fact start with four Peugeot's sitting on the top five places, with the Pescarolo-run N°17 car joining the three factory machines at the top of tonight's order.

For the first time in the history of the Le Mans 24 Hours, in its modern-day format at least, teams benefited from just one qualifying session this year in their respective bids to claim first place on Saturday afternoon's grid. But while nobody would shun the honor of starting from pole position, the combined effects of the cancellation of the traditional preliminary test day and the wet conditions which marked the majority of Wednesday evening's free practice meant that teams still had a certain amount of work to get through in dry conditions before being able to think in terms of topping tonight's timesheets.

Peugeot 908 leads Audi R15
The principal mission facing the crews of the three Team Peugeot Total Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs during this evening's four-hour run was to gather key information about the different compounds of slicks they have available for this weekend's race, and also to put the finishing touches to the set-ups of their respective machines.

"Given the all the work we still had to get through this evening, it was only after 11.30pm that I gave Stéphane the green light to go for a time. I told him he had three laps to try, and he took five, but I have no intention of holding that against him!" said Peugeot Sport Director Olivier Quesnel after the session. "It's obviously nice to see four Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs in the top-five places tonight, but we mustn't forget that this was just qualifying. The only thing that counts for me is Sunday afternoon's result. Even so, I would like to say a big bravo to Stéphane and to all the drivers, as well as to everyone in the team." Franck Montagny surprised observers just a quarter of an hour into the session by putting the N°8 Peugeot at the top of the provisional order with an early benchmark lap of 3m 25.608s. However, it was only once all the team's crucial groundwork had been completed that the times truly began to tumble in the final half hour before the checkered flag came out on the stroke of midnight.

Stéphane Sarrazin kicked off the frantic dying stages by closing to within 78/1000ths of the then best time at 23:30, but his first two flying laps were thwarted by traffic through the final sector. Following a quick pit-stop for freshly-heated rubber, the Frenchman then went out for one last attempt which bagged a 3m 22.888s to earn him a place at the front of the grid… with just 11 minutes remaining: "It's a great result for all the team, but Franck, Sébastien and I worked first and foremost on the race set-up this evening. It was only when we were fully satisfied on that front that we tried for a time at the end," observed Sarrazin. "Our objective now is to get away to a good start on Saturday afternoon and put in a good race." The crew of the N°8 car was joined on tonight's podium by the N°7 sister car of Klien//Lamy/Minassian. "Stéphane and I were on completely different strategies at the end," related Nicolas Minassian. "The N°7 and N°9 Peugeots were in race trim and our focus was on preparing for the race. I've think we've found a good balance. Our Michelin tires are nice and consistent, too, and we were able to post some very encouraging times with the race set-up." The top six cars this evening were covered by less than three seconds round the 13.629km circuit, which suggests that spectators can look forward to an exciting show when the great race itself kicks off at 3pm on Saturday afternoon.

After it rained during free practice on Wednesday, the Audi team used Thursday evening’s qualifying solely for car set-up and tire testing. During the four hour session last year’s winners Dindo Capello (Italy), Tom Kristensen (Denmark) and Allan McNish (Scotland) completed a quadruple stint on a single set of Michelin tires in the Audi R15 TDI with the start number "1" and thus collected important findings about tire wear.

Allan McNish
Only in the dying seconds towards the end of the first part of qualifying did Allan McNish make an attempt on fresh tires. In doing so he recorded a 3m 23.650s lap which proved to be almost unbreakable for the competition for the majority of the second qualifying session. Only after several attempts on fresh tires did Stéphane Sarrazin, in the fastest Peugeot, manage to eclipse the time set by McNish by 0.762 seconds just twelve minutes before the end of qualifying.

Tom Kristensen looking to extend his record LeMans winning numbers
"For us, today was all about finding the optimum race set-up and to collect as much data as possible with our new car around the Le Mans race track," explained Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "The grid positions for a 24-hour race do not directly affect the final result. That Allan (McNish) managed to secure a position on the front row while working through the program demonstrates just how much potential the R15 TDI has."

Lucas Luhr, Mike Rockenfeller and Marco Werner also only undertook a single qualifying attempt. Around midnight Marco Werner posted a time of 3m 25.780s which secured sixth place on the grid for the Audi R15 TDI with the start number "2".

The three Germans were assigned the task of comparing different aerodynamic configurations in the first part of qualifying. For this purpose their Audi R15 TDI was equipped with special data-logging suspension, which was changed as scheduled between the two qualifying sessions. Since the break was reduced from 60 to 35 minutes because the schedule was changed at short notice, Luhr Rockenfeller and Werner could only continue qualifying later. Changing a turbocharger cost further time.

The fastest ten cars on Thursday evening were all within about five seconds – this much time separated the fastest Peugeot from the quickest Audi in qualifying last year. This time the difference around the 13.629-kilometer track is less than one second.

A few incidents happened during the second qualifying session: The Pescarolo Sport driver Jean-Christophe Boullion lost control of the #17 Peugeot at the Tertre Rouge corner and returned to his pit after he damaged the left front bodywork of the car.

On his first lap of qualifying, the Le Mans rookie Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan could not avoid the gravel trap. At the Indianapolis corner, Narain Karthikeyan went straight off in the #14 Team Kolles Audi R10. But Narain managed to get back to the pits to be checked over.

Shortly after, Actor (and driver) Patrick Dempsey, who plays Dr Shepherd in the hit TV series "Grey's Anatomy", also went into the gravel trap. The #81 Ferrari F430 entered by the team Advanced Engineering spun on the track. The American actor managed to bring the car out of the gravel trap and back to its pit with no visible damage.

In LM P2 the #31 Team Essex Porsche RS Spyder had driver Kristian Poulsen put in a fastest time of 3:37.730. Meanwhile, Navi Team Goh, with 20-year-old Keisuke Kunimoto at the wheel, clocked an impressive 3:37.802 in their first qualifying. In LM P2 Porsche, the manufacturer from Stuttgart, is very much in charge. RS Spyders #31 and #5 lead the Lola Judd Coupe B08 of Speedy Racing Team Sebah.

In LM GT2, the #80 Flying Lizard Porsche is quickest, ahead of the #77 GT3 RSR entered by Team Felbermayr Proton. In LM GT1, the Corvettes #63 and #64 are ahead of the only Aston Martin DBR9 GT1, entered by Austrian team Jetalliance Racing. Fastest in LM GT1 was #63 Corvette Racing Corvette C6.R, with driver Jan Magnussen ahead of team mate Oliver Gavin in the #64 Corvette.

Qualifying Results

Pos

# Cls Drivers Team Car Time Gap To 1st
1. 8 P1 S.Bourdais, F.Montagny, S.Sarrazin Team Peugeot Total Peugeot 908 HDi FAP 3:22.888 0.000 0.000
2. 1 P1 D.Capello, T.Kristensen, A.McNish Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R15 TDI 3:23.650 0.762 0.762
3. 7 P1 C.Klien, P.Lamy, N.Minassian Team Peugeot Total Peugeot 908 HDi FAP 3:24.860 1.210 1.972
4. 17 P1 J.C.Boullion, S.Pagenaud, B.Treluyer Pescarolo Sport Peugeot 908 HDi FAP 3:25.062 0.202 2.174
5. 9 P1 D.Brabham, M.Gene, A.Wurz Peugeot Sport Total Peugeot 908 HDi FAP 3:25.252 0.190 2.364
6. 2 P1 L.Luhr, M.Rockenfeller, M.Werner Audi Sport North America Audi R15 TDI 3:25.780 0.528 2.892
7. 3 P1 T.Bernhard, R.Dumas, A.Premat Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R15 TDI 3:27.106 1.326 4.218
8. 007 P1 J.Charouz, T.Enge, S.Mucke AMR Eastern Europe Lola B09/60-Aston Martin 3:27.180 0.074 4.292
9. 008 P1 A.Davidson, D.Turner, J.Verstappen Aston Martin Racing Lola B09/60-Aston Martin 3:27.704 0.524 4.816
10. 13 P1 A.Belicchi, N.Jani, N.Prost Speedy Racing Team Sebah Lola B08/60-Aston Martin 3:28.134 0.430 5.246
11. 23 P1 P.Hardman, N.Leventis, D.Watt Strakka Racing Ginetta Zytek 09S 3:29.798 1.664 6.910
12. 16 P1 C.Tinseau, J.Barbosa, B.Jouanny Pescarolo Sport Pescarolo 01-Judd 3:30.466 0.668 7.578
13. 15 P1 C.Albers, C.Bakkerud, G.Mondini Team Kolles Audi R10 TDI 3:31.192 0.726 8.304
14. 14 P1 N.Karthikeyan, A.Lotterer, C.Zwolsman Team Kolles Audi R10 TDI 3:31.548 0.356 8.660
15. 10 P1 B.Senna, T.Ortelli, T.Monteiro Team ORECA Matmut AIM ORECA 01-AIM 3:33.514 1.966 10.626
16. 11 P1 O.Panis, N.Lapierre, S.Ayari Team ORECA Matmut AIM ORECA 01-AIM 3:33.860 0.346 10.972
17. 009 P1 S.Hall, P.Kox, H.Primat Aston Martin Racing Lola B09/60-Aston Martin 3:33.968 0.108 11.080
18. 6 P1 L.Tomlinson, R.Dean, N.Moore Team LNT Ginetta Zytek 09S 3:35.804 1.836 12.916
19. 4 P1 J.Campbell-Walter, V.Ickx, R.Ianetta Creation Autosportif Creation Judd 3:35.960 0.156 13.072
20. 31 P2 C.Elgaard, K.Poulsen, E.Collard Team Essex Porsche RS Spyder 3:37.720 1.760 14.832
21. 5 P2 S.Ara, K.Kunimoto, S.Maassen NAVI Team Goh Porsche RS Spyder 3:37.802 0.082 14.914
22. 12 P1 P.Ragues, F.Mailleux, D.Andre Signature Plus Courage LC70-Judd 3:39.326 1.524 16.438
23. 33 P2 J.Kane, B.Leuenberger, X.Pompidou Speedy Racing Team Sebah Lola B09/80-Judd 3:41.724 2.398 18.836
24. 25 P2 T.Erdos, M.Newton, C.Dyson RML Lola B09/86-Mazda 3:41.952 0.228 19.064
25. 40 P2 M.Amaral, O.Pla, G.Smith Quifel-ASM Team Ginetta Zytek 09S 3:42.012 0.060 19.124
26. 30 P2 T.Biagi, M.Bobbi, A.Piccini Racing Box SRL Lola B09/80-Judd 3:42.848 0.836 19.960
27. 41 P2 K.Ojjeh, C.Y.Gosselin, P.Peter GAC Racing Team Zytek 07S 3:44.830 1.982 21.942
28. 35 P2 M.Lahaye, K.Ajlani, G.Moreau OAK Racing Pescarolo 01-Mazda 3:45.032 0.202 22.144
29. 32 P2 J.Barazi, S.Moseley, P.Bennett Barazi Epsilon Zytek 07S 3:52.956 7.924 30.068
30. 39 P2 H.Noda, J.de Pourtales, M.Marsch Kruse-Schiller Motorsport Lola B07/46-Mazda 3:53.072 0.116 30.184
31. 63 GT1 J.Magnussen, J.O'Connell, A.Garcia Corvette Racing Corvette C6.R 3:54.230 1.158 31.342
32. 64 GT1 O.Gavin, O.Beretta, M.Fassler Corvette Racing Corvette C6.R 3:54.702 0.472 31.814
33. 26 P2 P.Bruneau, T.Greaves, M.RostaN Bruichladdich Bruneau Radical-AER 3:55.320 0.618 32.432
34. 66 GT1 L.Lichtner-Hoyer, A.Muller, T.Gruber Jetalliance Racing GmbH Aston Martin DBR9 3:56.126 0.806 33.238
35. 72 GT1 L.Alphand, P.Goueslard, S.Gregoire Luc Alphand Aventures Corvette C6.R 3:57.170 1.044 34.282
36. 24 P2 J.Nicolet, R.Hein, J.F.Yvon OAK Racing Pescarolo 01-Mazda 3:57.524 0.354 34.636
37. 73 GT1 Y.Clairay, X.Maasen, J.Jousse Luc Alphand Aventures Corvette C6.R 3:58.564 1.040 35.676
38. 80 GT2 S.Neiman, D.Law, J.Bergmeister Flying Lizard Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 4:03.202 4.638 40.314
39. 77 GT2 M.Lieb, R.Lietz, W.Henzler Team Felbermayr-Proton Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 4:03.232 0.030 40.344
40. 82 GT2 J.Melo, M.Salo, P.Kaffer Risi Competizione Ferrari F430 GT 4:04.056 0.824 41.168
41. 99 GT2 C.Bouchut, Y.Lebon, M.Rodrigues JMB Racing Ferrari F430 GT 4:04.084 0.028 41.196
42. 97 GT2 F.Babini, M.Malucelli, P.Ruberti BMS Scuderia Italia SPa Ferrari F430 GT 4:04.222 0.138 41.334
43. 76 GT2 P.Long, P.Pilet, R.Narac IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 4:04.648 0.426 41.760
44. 78 GT2 G.Bruni, L.Perez Companc, M.Russo AF Corse SRL Ferrari F430 GT 4:04.938 0.290 42.050
45. 92 GT2 R.Bell, A.Kirkaldy, T.Sugden JMW Motorsport Ferrari F430 GT 4:05.168 0.230 42.280
46. 87 GT2 J.Cocker, P.Drayson, M.Franchitti Drayson Racing Aston Martin Vantage 4:06.482 1.314 43.594
47. 89 GT2 A.Simonsen, D.Farnbacher, C.Montanari Hankook Team Farnbacher Ferrari F430 GT 4:06.612 0.130 43.724
48. 85 GT2 T.Coronel, J.Janis, J.Bleekemolen Snoras Spyker Squadron Spyker C8 Laviolette 4:08.348 1.736 45.460
49. 84 GT2 P.Ehret, L.Mansell, R.Rusinov Team Modena Ferrari F430 GT 4:08.508 0.160 45.620
50. 83 GT2 T.Krohn, N.Jonsson, E.van de Poele Risi Competizione Ferrari F430 GT 4:08.758 0.250 45.870
51. 70 GT2 H.Felbermayr Jr, H.Felbermayr Sr, M.Lecourt IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 4:10.014 1.256 47.126
52. 75 GT2 D.O'Young, P.Hesnault, P.Kralev Endurance Asia Team Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 4:10.456 0.442 47.568
53. 96 GT2 M.McInerney, S.McInerney, M.Vergers Virgo Motorsport Ferrari F430 GT 4:10.664 0.208 47.776
54. 81 GT2 P.Dempsey, J.Foster, D.Kitch Jr Team Advanced Engineering Ferrari F430 GT 4:13.920 3.256 51.032
55. 68 GT1 M.Apicella, A.Yogo, Y.Yamagishi JLOC Lamborghini Murcielago 4:21.812 7.892 58.924

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