Peugeot secure its second one-two finish in the 2010 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup this weekend at Road Atlanta. The victory went to the N.08 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP of Stephane Sarrazin, Franck Montagny and Pedro Lamy. They finished ahead of the N.07 sister car (Davidson/Wurz/Gene) to give the team a lead in the inaugural ILMC.
Just three weeks after the opening round at Silverstone, Peugeot succeeded in claiming another one-two finish at one of the calendar's most complex races, if only because of the venue's usual problem of traffic.
But Peugeot survived the combination of 44 cars on the track and the nine safety car interruptions with flying colors, even though the fight at the sharp end was as close as they come from the word go. "For the moment, we aren't taking any risks," reported Alexander Wurz shortly before the halfway point. "There's a car to overtake every 100 meters! We need to be on our toes all the time."
However, the combination of the French team's perfect strategy and the fact its drivers didn't make any mistakes allowed Peugeot Sport to come through the final phase unscathed to score an emphatic one-two finish.
At the wheel of the N.07 Peugeot that Anthony Davidson had qualified on pole the previous day, Marc Gene got away cleanly at the start. In his wake, Franck Montagny (N.08 Peugeot) and Allan McNish (N.7 Audi) immediately engaged in a thrilling fight which even saw the two cars touch at one stage.
A superb passing maneuver enabled Montagny to take control ahead of the best-placed Audi on Lap 11. The N.08 Peugeot and the N.7 Audi then traded the lead several times as a function of their respective strategies and the frequent safety car appearances. With a field of 44 starters for this year's race, there were a high number of accidents and collisions, which meant that picking a way through the traffic was particularly difficult for the front-runners. The situation tipped in favor of Peugeot shortly before the race's seventh hour when the N.7 Audi was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop. That allowed the two Team Peugeot Total 908 HDi FAPs to control from the front to the flag, with the N.08 car finishing in front of the N.07 machine.
After completing 394 laps (1000 miles) in a little over nine hours - making it one of the fastest Petit Le Mans on record - Stephane Sarrazin (N.08 Peugeot) took the checkered flag a minute clear of his British team-mate Anthony Davidson (N.07 Peugeot). For Sarrazin and Montagny, it was their second straight Petit Le Mans win.
Following its result in the 1000km of Silverstone at the beginning of September, it was Peugeot's second consecutive one-two finish in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, and also its second win this year in USA after its success in March's
12 Hours of Sebring. With the final round of the series in China (1000km of Zhuhai, November 6-7) still to come, Peugeot enjoys a strong lead at the top of the provisional ILMC standings.
With the leading Audi and Peugeot swapping the lead for six hours, Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish in the car that won this year's Le Mans 24 Hour managed to repeatedly achieve a small lead in the Audo R15 TDI. But at 17:51 (local time), exactly 6 hours and 21 minutes after the race had started, Dindo Capello, who was leading at that time, had to come in for an unscheduled pit stop because an insert in his helmet prescribed by the regulations had come loose and the fireproof balaclava started to cover his eyes. Without being able to see, Capello had to let the Peugeot pass and head for the pits. Afterwards, Audi Sport Team Joest tried everything to make up the lost lap. But the picture during the remaining hours of the race was similar as it had been before: the two Audi R15 TDI and the two Peugeot 908 cars drove comparable lap times and were running without the slightest problems, so that it was impossible for Audi to recover the gap. Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish ultimately had to settle for third place. The second Audi R15 TDI with Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer was running in a promising third place during the early phase of the race. Due to a small slip at the beginning of the second hour, Marcel Fassler lost third place to the second Peugeot. More serious was the mistake Andre Lotterer made an hour later: while attempting to pass an LMP2 vehicle in the fast "S-turns" Lotterer came off the track. Although the front of the R15 TDI was heavily damaged, the repair only took 15 laps, but caused the car to lose ground. From 21st place, the runners-up of the 2010 Le Mans 24 Hours managed to push to sixth place overall and fifth in the LMP1 class.
2010 Petit Le Mans - final positions:
1. Peugeot 908 HDi FAP N.08 (Sarrazin/Montagny/Lamy), 394 laps in 9h 12m
2. Peugeot 908 HDi FAP N.07 (Davidson/Wurz/Gene), +1m 1.681s
3. Audi (McNish/Kristensen/Capello), +2 laps
4; HPD-ARX 01c (Brabham/Pagenaud/Franchitti), +9 laps
5; Lola-AER (Field/Field), +11 laps
Best lap : Franck Montagny, 1mn07s948
2010 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup:
1. PEUGEOT (95 points)
2. AUDI (59 points)