Peugeot team ready for 2008 challenges
The 2007 season turned out to be one of the most rewarding ever for Peugeot Sport which launched four different new cars on the world motor sport scene, from the factory program with the 908 HDi FAP to its package of promotional formulae with the 207 LW THP, 207 Super 2000 and Spider THP.
The lessons learned by the team while finding its marks last year will be implemented in 2008 and all its energy will be devoted to building on that experience to achieve its objectives.
This time last year, under the leadership of Michel Barge, Peugeot Sport organized a dynamic presentation of the new 908 HDi FAP to announce its modest objectives for the season ahead. Following the car’s initial gestation, which was rapid to say the least, Team Peugeot Total enjoyed a memorable season which brought its fair share of surprises, satisfactions and passion, not to mention the unrelenting toil which enabled it to secure results well beyond its expectations and targets. Indeed, never in Peugeot’s history had a competition car won out of the box, yet the 908 HDi FAP claimed victory in its debut race at Monza before going on to clinch the 2007 Le Mans Series. Team Peugeot Total won all six rounds, started from pole position each time and posted every fastest race lap, not to mention its unhoped-for performance at Le Mans where it started from pole position before taking second place at the end of the 24-hour race.
Since the curtain came down on Team Peugeot Total’s 2007 campaign at Interlagos where it sewed up the Le Mans Series, the team hasn’t eased up in the slightest. With the full backing of the brand and the President of the Group, the program has effectively been stepped up in a bid to make further progress and achieve its goals, not the least of which is Le Mans.
The 2008 908 HDi FAP program
The objective for 2008 was clearly spelled out when the program was initially announced in June 2006, namely victory at Le Mans. Since then, all the team’s energy and effort has been focused on that supreme challenge. Every one of its outings, whether a test session, a simulation run or a race, has sought not only to validate new parts and evolutions to take the 908 HDi FAP forward in terms of both performance and reliability, but also give the ten drivers who make up the 2008 squad to familiarize themselves with the car.
The priority: Le Mans The 2007 Le Mans 24 Hours - which saw Team Peugeot Total qualify on pole-position and claim second place after having both its cars running up to two hours from the flag - permitted the team to gather a considerable amount of data and information concerning both the technical and human aspects of its operation, as well as the overall management of its entry in the celebrated French race. Since last June, extremely busy Le Mans Series and test programs have enabled it to continue to work on the car and its reliability with a view to being able to tackle races at the same pace seen in practice.
This ambitious program will see Team Peugeot Total contest March’s 12 Hours of Sebring after visiting the American venue for the three-day winter test on January 28-30. Pedro Lamy, Nicolas Minassian and Stéphane Sarrazin were all in attendance and the latter profited from the trip to establish a new lap record for the track. The exacting 12-hour race itself is seen as a chance to take the development of the 908 HDi FAP further still.
Bruno FAMIN, Technical Director: "Our work has focused on saving weight and extracting superior, reliable performance from the engine with a view to enabling us to race at the same pace as we lap in practice, not to mention the optimization of every one of the car’s components. Given the little time we had last year, this was something we weren’t able to do with the 2007-spec car. In addition to ongoing work on the aerodynamics, our program has benefited the suspension, steering, differential and gearshift control. However, because of the weight inherent in the diesel engine, we have yet to get down to the minimum 900kg weight threshold specified in the new regulations."
All Peugeot Sport’s efforts and resources have been channeled towards its priority objective and three 908 HDi FAPs will be entered for the 2008 Le Mans 24 Hours:
two by Team Peugeot Total (N°s 7 and 8),
and one by Peugeot Sport Total (N°9).
The exact crew of each car will be announced in May once the team has had a chance to evaluate the style and approach of each driver, as well as the natural affinities between them. The ten drivers who form Peugeot Sport’s 2008 line-up are:
Anthony BELTOISE (36, France), test and reserve driver
Marc GENE (33, Spain)
Christian KLIEN (25, Austria)
Pedro LAMY (35, Portugal)
Nicolas MINASSIAN (34, France)
Franck MONTAGNY (30, France)
Stéphane SARRAZIN (32, France)
Jacques VILLENEUVE (35, Canada)
Alexander WURZ (34, Austria)
Ricardo ZONTA (31, Brazil)
Michel BARGE, Peugeot Sport Director: "Like last year, we wanted our 2008 line-up to be strong, very human, sporting and bonded. During the recruitment process, which was led by Serge Saulnier, we paid attention to all these factors, as well as the respective records and experience of the drivers in cars which are in fact very close to the 908 HDi FAP in the way they need to be set up and driven. Between them, our ten drivers have 393 Formula 1 Grand Prix starts under their belts, as well as 32 previous participations in the Le Mans 24 Hours!"
-The Le Mans Series: Peugeot looking to defend its title As was the case in 2007, two 908 HDi FAPs will defend the chances of Peugeot and its partners in five European races, namely Barcelona, Monza, Spa, the Nürburgring and Silverstone. Given the excellent season enjoyed by the two crews and Peugeot Sport last year, the team has chosen to build on the same synergies in 2008.
908 HDi FAP N°7: Marc GENE/Nicolas MINASSIAN
908 HDi FAP N°8: Pedro LAMY/Stéphane SARRAZIN
Michel BARGE: "We will be out to defend our title, without losing sight of the fact that our priority is the Le Mans 24 Hours. We will face some fierce, experienced competition. That’s what we wanted and that’s what we’ve got! This promises to be especially valuable because we will have four races - Sebring, Barcelona, Monza and Spa - before the big one at Le Mans. The calendar is extremely busy and calls for complex logistics because we have also programmed numerous test sessions and simulation runs. With regard to the 2008 calendar’s last race at Shanghai, which was announced last week by the ACO, we believe it’s a pity it won’t count towards the championship and we reserve the right not to take part."
This busy calendar means that Team Peugeot Total will not be able to attend the official tests at Paul Ricard on March 2-3.
Livery changes Although the carbon theme has been carried over, the livery of the 908 HDi FAP has evolved. Style Peugeot has produced a design which symbolizes the flow of air and fuel, with lines extending from the headlights and past the air intakes to the engine cover which features ’HDi FAP’ branding. The N°7 908 HDi FAP will be predominantly red, the N°8 car predominantly blue and the N°9 car predominantly grey.