A Fourth One-Two For The 908 HDi FAP
Team Peugeot Total’s final full-scale dress rehearsal ahead of the 2010 Le Mans 24 Hours ended in the squad’s fourth straight one-two finish, with Spa-Francorchamps providing the backdrop to a race that was particularly rich in valuable lessons, dramatic turnarounds and heart-stopping thrills.
The weekend got off to a great start for Team Peugeot Total with Sébastien Bourdais putting the No3 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP onto pole position with a time of 1m 57.884s and the No2 car taking third position.
Race day started, however, with drama at the first corner when Pedro Lamy starting from pole-position made a small mistake and spun on the damp track at the first corner dropping him down to ninth position overall. The race was then interrupted by a number of safety car interventions. Working to the latest safety car-related regulations – which were not applied with the greatest of precision – proved a complex exercise! As a result, although the three Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs had topped the leader board, the No7 Audi suddenly found itself in front after pitting with an advantage of almost a minute because the red light at the pit-lane exit had not been switched on!
When the race resumed Team Peugeot Total upped its pace, both in the pits and on the racetrack and chased down the lead Audi, only for the race to be interrupted again when an electricity power-cut affected the region and forced the organisers to suspend the race for safety reasons.
With power restored the race got underway again and the spectators were able to watch a thrilling fight as the Peugeot drivers lap by lap chased down the leading Audi. Sébastien Bourdais, then second overall in the No3 car, managed to bridge the gap to Capello on Lap 64. That sparked off a breathtaking fight between the two drivers which led to some exceptional passing manoeuvres before the Peugeot took the lead on Lap 71. Sébastien then handed over to Simon Pagenaud who valiantly defended his advantage, despite a rain shower an hour before the finish. He took the risk of staying out on medium-compound tyres in the tricky conditions, unlike his Audi rivals who opted for “intermediates”. This gamble paid off handsomely due to the superior performance of the Peugeot compared to the Audi, and the No3 car went on to win by more than a minute. It was Bourdais’ first victory with Peugeot which has now gone unbeaten at Spa since 2007.
Stéphane Sarrazin also stayed out on slicks in the No2 Peugeot, although he did switch to softer tyres as he called on every bit of his talent to chase down the Audi. He passed the Audi just two laps from the end to secure Team Peugeot Total’s fourth consecutive one-two finish after Le Mans and Petit Le Mans in 2009, and the win in Sebring in March.
The No1 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP nearly made it a clean sweep for Peugeot but for an off track excursion whilst being driven by Marc Gené just 30 minutes from the end of the race.
1 – Peugeot 908 HDi FAP (Bourdais / Pagenaud / Lamy), 139 Laps
2 – Peugeot 908 HDi FAP (Montagny / Sarrazin), +1m 8.308s
3 – Audi R15 (McNish / Kristensen / Capello), +1m 26.215s
4- Peugeot 908 HDi FAP (Gene / Wurz / Davidson), +1 lap
5 – Audi R15 (Rockenfeller / Dumas / Bernhard), +2 laps
Fastest race lap: Franck Montagny (1m 59.797s)