Peugeot Team Total – A Typical Test Session

Peugeot Sport is on the offensive as it prepares for the Le Mans 24 Hours at Paul Ricard. 2009 was a highly successful year for them winning Le Mans with a one-two finish. Despite not competing at the recent 8 Hours of Le Castellet, Peugeot was at the track preparing for a test session simulating similar endurance race condition. While the current focus is on Audi new R15 plus after its successful debut at the 8 Hours Le Castellet, I have gone the other way by having a peek at what last year’s Le Mans 24 Hours winner is doing after everybody had gone home.

The new Peugeot 908 HDi FAP needs no introduction. With a Sebring 12 Hours 1-2 finish debut, there is no doubt that it will mount huge challenge for the new R15 Plus.

We are eager to see what the Audi R15 Plus is capable of if it were to compete on the same track with this beast. The supplied 980 HDi FAP for ORECA Matmut beats the Audi R15 Plus to pole at 8 Hours of Le Castellet, however on the longer runs the Audi reigns supreme. While we understand that Qualifying is not the game in endurance racing, the point we are raising here is the raw pace the car had. At the moment, the Peugeot is looking strong despite only at the hands of Team ORECA Matmut.

Sébastien Bourdais have yet to conquer the Le Mans 24 Hours. His best Le Mans finish with Peugeot is second, losing to David Brabham, Marc Gene and Alexander Wurz. For Audi, this was their first defeat at La Sarthe, the ninth victory has to wait for this year and this depends largely on Peugeot.

It’s no magic that you can gain few free seconds in the pit by virtue of hours of practice simulating different scenarios of problems. So when the real problem arises, it’s just a matter of formality. The teams will be in automated robotic mode and it’s fun to watch these ultra robotic like mechanics doing their work in the pits.

There has been no shortage of excitement in the paddock for Antony Davidson and co. The drivers usual hangout place in the pit lane is definitely the engineers box. Here they spied on their opponents, accessing their teammates performance and just being busy sometimes. Not to mention they like to bug the engineers all the time. It’s in their habit doing so.

The engineers use their respective skills and many years’ experience to tune, inspect and analyze the different components which are employed in competition. The speed and efficiency in getting things done here can surprise anybody outside the industry. We didn’t realize that motorsports have come to this level of professionalism that when compared to amateurs it pains us to see the difference.

Since its historic success in June, 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 actual races.

Speed is the essence of pit stops. In endurance racing, driver is part of the pit crew as well. Their task is to help fellow drivers gets out of the car safely then the other driver will in turn help him to properly strap in the car.

Tyres are prepared in the best of condition before being attached to the racecar. Most probably the single crucial element that will decide victory or defeat.

Engineers and mechanics work on understanding the car. It can be setups, the engine, etc. At this stage usually they test a lot of things and examined all those gigs of invaluable data back at the factory.

There is no time to jack the car in the pits, there is an automated jack underneath the car that will bring it up and down in a matter of seconds.

The dawn is upon them. While many are still sleeping at this time, these cars still roared Paul Ricard. This is part and parcel of endurance racing, getting to the place where no one have dared before.

All of the data from the fleet of 908 HDi FAP cars are stored in those big blue computers. The telemetry stations are positioned in the back of the garage during testing or races.

This Peugeot 908 HDi FAP diesel is a silent weapon. 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 has begun on a new car.

The mere mention of endurance racing conjures up images of exhausted drivers keeping the pace through the night by keeping themselves fit when they are waiting to take turns to drive until the race ended. Teams with less budget don’t have this kind of facility in their motor-home.

Tyres are stored in a special compartment. This will help the team gets the right tyre criterias that suits their requirement.

For the engineers monitoring the screen for 24 hours non-stop is a tremendous challenge. To read the graph and making sense of it while fighting the urge to sleep requires a lot of self motivation. It’s crucial because the drivers’ lives is at stake, engineers can’t afford to lapse for a moment, particularly if crucial information needs to be fed through.

Editorial : Mu’az Zakaria
Image Source : Peugeot

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