Just over a month ago, Peugeot unveiled its new corporate identity which encapsulates high standards and excitement, two qualities that are especially applicable to Motor Sport.
Like Peugeot, Peugeot Sport is on the offensive. As it prepares for the future by building on its recent successes, not only does Peugeot Sport serve as a shop window for the Brand, both technologically and in terms of image, but it also mirrors the Marque’s new corporate identity, which puts Motion and Emotion at the heart of its strategy.
2009 was a highly successful year in motor sport terms: topping the bill was a one-two finish in the Le Mans 24 Hours, a clean sweep of the podium places for the 207 Super 2000 in the Rallye Monte-Carlo, as well as third consecutive Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ titles in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, thanks to the efforts of several Peugeot subsidiaries, and led by Peugeot UK’s Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle, who won the Drivers’ title in their first year of competing. All this is the result of the spirit of all the Peugeot competitors; a spirit which will continue in 2010 in the hunt for further success and excitement.
Riding high on the back of last year’s Le Mans one-two finish, Peugeot Sport is aiming to do it again in 2010. In the fourth and final year of the 908 HDi FAP’s career, Team Peugeot Total has pressed on with its development, getting down to work on the very next day after that historic win, striving to squeeze even more improvements out of the car.
Test sessions and races at a variety of venues have been programmed in order to be as well prepared as possible for the 78th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours, a race which always throws up unique challenges, uncertainties and changes of fortune, all part of its legendary status. But even the most meticulous preparations cannot hope to reproduce the specific features and surprises this race invariably delivers. Since its historic success on June 14, 2009, Peugeot will have racked up a total of eleven test sessions consisting of endurance runs, set-up work and two demanding warm-ups in the form of two actual races.
Eleven drivers have been chosen to fly the Peugeot flag in 2010, running with race numbers 1, 2 and 3, the numbers which were previously the property of the Marque’s much respected rival. The 2009 winners will carry the Number 1 plate: Marc GENE (ESP,) Alexander WURZ (AUT), plus a newcomer to the Peugeot Sport ranks, Anthony DAVIDSON (GBR). Marc and Alexander will be tackling their fourth Le Mans, the Austrian having won twice, in 1996 and 2009. Anthony has contested the French race twice (2002 and 2009) and tested the 908 in a session at Le Castellet at the end of 2008.
In the N°2 908 HDi FAP, three French drivers Nicolas MINASSIAN, Franck MONTAGNY and Stéphane SARRAZIN, form the trio that previously raced together for Oreca in 2002 and again in a memorable race last November at Le Mans, in the 207 Relais relay race which formed part of the season’s final Rencontres Peugeot Sport meeting. It’s worth noting that Stéphane has taken pole position for the last three years at Le Mans in the 908 HDi FAP.
The third crew is made up of local boy Sébastien BOURDAIS, who renews his partnership with his United States-based countryman Simon PAGENAUD and Portugal’s Pedro LAMY. Sébastien and Pedro had also been Le Mans team-mates back in 2007, at the wheel of the N°8 Peugeot.
Christian KLIEN will be the reserve driver for Team Peugeot Total, while Gregory GUILVERT, having impressed at a test in the 908 (his prize for winning the 2009 THP Spider Cup), takes on the role of test driver.
On the racing front, Peugeot’s first test comes in the shape of the full-on challenge of dealing with 12 hours of racing against the heat and difficult track at Sebring (Florida, USA), which provides the backdrop for the year’s first appearance of the two Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs, shared by
Davidson/Gene/Wurz (N°07) and Bourdais/Lamy/Minassian (N°08). The French squad will first tackle a test session the previous weekend and then resume testing two days after the endurance race. The second event is at Spa-Francorchamps in a round of the Le Mans Series and this will serve as a dress rehearsal for the whole Peugeot Sport team, with three cars entered. Eleven test sessions and two races should enable the team to prepare thoroughly for the 2010 Le Mans 24 Hours.
Peugeot Sport is also working on life after Le Mans and, at the moment, there are two further races on the calendar for the 908 HDi FAP: the Le Mans Series round at Silverstone, in September, then – assuming it is confirmed by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest – the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup race in Shanghai. For Peugeot Sport, the second half of the year is also the time to look to the future, specifically the immediate future and the new 2011 regulations, which signal the start of a new era for endurance racing. Some of the new rules have already been announced, which means work can now begin on a new car.