LeMans fans waiting patiently to watch the greatest diesel duel in the history of motorsports got a preview on Sunday during an official test session for the 24 Hours of LeMans. All 55 teams were on hand, but our attention is focused on the reigning Audi R10 and newcomer from Peugeot, the 908 HDi. Both cars are a tour de force of diesel technology, but the 908 HDi driven by Sebastien Bourdais proved itself a smidge faster during testing, posting the best recorded lap of the shortened 8.47 test course with a time of 3:26:707 seconds. The Audi R10 driven by Frank Biela posted the second quickest time of 3:28:277 seconds, a little over 1.5 ticks slower than the Peugeot. The other 908 HDi car finished fifth, while the other two Audi R10s finished third and sixth, respectively. The two Peugeot 908 HDi cars completed the day with no mechanical issues, though the Audi teams were dogged by a number of red flags. There's less than two weeks left before the 24 Hours of LeMans begins on June 16th, so we expect both teams to arrive prepared and ready to lay it all out on the track.
[Source: News Press]
UPDATE: Fixed the lap time errors.
THE PEUGEOT 908 HDi FAP – A REWARDING DAY'S WORK
Le Mans 24 Hours Preliminary Test Day – 3 June 2007
Peugeot Sport left Le Mans yesterday very pleased after completing the planned test programme for its maiden visit and setting the fastest lap.
The 908 HDi FAP driven by Sébastien Bourdais posted the fastest recorded time of 3m 26.707s, over 1.5 seconds faster than the second placed Audi R10.
Sébastien Bourdais left his fast lap until late on Sunday after posting a series of very quick laps on race tyres after fine-tuning the set-up of his 908 HDi FAP: "We had a comprehensive programme to go through and we succeeded in ticking almost all the items on our list. The car is fantastic to drive, it is nicely balanced and if we succeed in putting in the same sort of performance in a fortnight's time, then we could possibly end up springing a surprise. We did not run on qualifying tyres and I wasn't far off the car's maximum potential. I've got a busy Champ Car schedule over the coming days including a race at Portland next weekend, and then it'll be back to Le Mans for the real thing ...."
Jacques Villeneuve also emerged as the fastest rookie after carefully increasing his pace. "I started with a couple of laps aimed primarily at learning the track which has got quite a few interesting corners. I then went back out later in the day to do a series of long runs to see how the tyres performed, but my biggest concern was the amount of traffic about. That's something new to me, especially since certain cars were taking some pretty bizarre lines! Sharing a car with other drivers isn't a problem and we weren't looking for the absolute fastest time here so I didn't get involved in any set up work. My team mates are far more accustomed to the car than I am!"
It was also Peugeot Sport's other Le Man's rookie Marc Gene's first visit to the circuit. "It's been a very rewarding experience driving here today. The first thing that strikes you is how long the circuit is; it takes so long to cover just one lap! My initial objective was to learn the circuit and find my marks as I completed my 10 mandatory laps. I followed the advice not only of my team mates but also that of my brother Jordi who knows Le Mans well. I was impressed by certain turns, including Indianapolis, and the speeds involved are very reminiscent of Monza."
Fastest lap times:
- 1 Bourdais/Lamy/Sarrazin (Peugeot 908 HDi FAP) 3m 26.707s
- 2 Pirro (Audi R10) 3m 28.277s
- 3 McNish (Audi R10) 3m 28.406s
- 4 Boullion (Pescarolo Judd) 3m 28.574s
- 5 Villeneuve/Gene/Minassian (Peugeot 908 HDi FAP) 3m 30.314s
Allan McNish - Le Mans 24 Hours Test Day Report (3 June)
Allan McNish began his preparations for this year's Le Mans 24 Hours by driving his diesel-powered Audi in an official test at the French circuit today (SUN).
McNish's co-driver Mike Rockenfeller clocked the third fastest time, a 3min 28.406secs, an average speed of over 145mph, around the slightly-shortened 8.47-mile track comprising of closed public roads - despite his inexperience in the Audi R10 TDI.
McNish, who bids to become the first Briton to win the annual endurance race in a diesel-engined sportscar, was competing in an official one-day test attended by all 55 teams that will contest the twice-around-the-clock marathon in France over 16-17 June.
"We completed what we'd set out to achieve. Unfortunately the day comprised a number of red flags, including one near the end which upset our plans a little, but overall we have a well balanced car and we're happy," commented McNish who won Le Mans in 1998.
"We spilt the workload between the three cars. I drove our car for most of the morning to conduct basic ground work. In the afternoon all three of us drove again to give everyone experience of the '07 R10 TDI at Le Mans which has changed slightly at Tetre Rouge and Arnage."
The Monaco-based Scotsman's co-drivers are as last year with regular American Le Mans Series co-pilot Dindo Capello (I) joined by Tom Kristensen (Den). Record seven-time Le Mans winner Kristensen is still recovering from an accident he suffered in the opening round of the German Touring Car Masters (DTM) on 22 April. Rockenfeller (D) deputized for the Dane today (SUN) in the McNish/Capello Audi R10 TDI and a final decision as to whether Kristensen competes at Le Mans will be taken during race week.
Frank Biela (D), Emanuele Pirro (I) and Marco Werner (D), who made Le Mans history by winning the race in their diesel-powered Audi last year, drive together again and recorded the second quickest time (3:28.277) courtesy of Biela. Meanwhile the third "factory" entered Audi R10 TDI handled by Mattias Ekström (Sw), Lucas Luhr (D), and Alexandre Prémat (F), was sixth fastest (Luhr, 3:30.613).
The Peugeot of Sébastien Bourdais (F) recorded the fastest time, 3min 26.707secs, in the eight-hour test staged in warm, sunny conditions. Last year's pole-position time set by Capello was a 3:30.466secs.
McNish flies to Scotland on Monday for two days before attending the TT motorcycle races on the Isle of Man until Friday evening. Allan will spend a day at his Monaco home before returning to Le Mans on Sunday evening to commence his final countdown for the 75th Le Mans 24 Hours.