LE MANS SERIES: 1,000km OF SILVERSTONE (September 12-14, 2008)
The fifth and final round of the 2008 Le Mans Series takes teams to Great Britain for the 1,000km of Silverstone which will decide the outcome of the Manufacturers', Drivers' and Teams' title chases. Despite winning the first four races and although it enjoys a six-point cushion at the top of the table, Peugeot is not yet certain to secure the Manufacturers' trophy which is its priority objective. Similarly, Marc Gené and Nicolas Minassian are just two points clear of their closest rivals in the Drivers' standings with the N°7 908 HDi FAP.
The 908 HDi FAP revealed its potential during its debut season by winning every round of the 2007 Le Mans Series and went on to clinch the Manufacturers' crown. This year, the thorough groundwork the team has put in on the reliability front has once again seen Peugeot Sport enjoy an unbeaten run in the 2008 calendar of 1000km races against opponents who have some 10 years' experience of endurance racing behind them. Only a mechanical problem and diverse race incidents prevented the 908s from notching up one-two finishes in all the Le Mans Series rounds contested to date, otherwise the series could have been wrapped up without going down to the wire. The perfect result finally came on August 17 at the Nürburgring where the 908s qualified in first and second places before going on to seal a one-two finish at the end of the home race of the team's principal rival, Audi.
Everyone at Peugeot Sport has prepared particularly thoroughly for the year's ultimate, decisive clash, the 1,000km of Silverstone. Peugeot Sport's Director Michel Barge: "Our number one objective is to win the Manufacturers' title. That is very important for the brand. The six-point gap over our main rivals means we will have to run an aggressive strategy. The ideal scenario would be a repeat of our result at the Nürburgring, or at least to finish with one car ahead of the Audis. The 908 HDi FAP has again shown this year that it is at home on all types of circuit, but it is especially strong on fast, flowing tracks such as Silverstone. If we succeed in finishing ahead of the Audis with both cars, the Drivers' title will go to the N°7 908 of Marc and Nicolas, because last year's champions Pedro Lamy and Stéphane Sarrazin are no longer in the running in the N°8 car."
Although French, one of the four 908 HDi FAP drivers feels practically at home when he races at Silverstone, namely Nicolas Minassian who proved as much in 2007 by qualifying on pole position, posting the fastest race lap and taking the chequered flag in first place: "Marc and I have no intention of playing second fiddle. Our objective is to leave Silverstone on Sunday evening with victory and the 2008 Le Mans Series title in our pocket. What a terrific way that would be of rounding off the season. I feel very relaxed and I go into this race intent on winning! And if we succeed, the title will automatically be ours. Last year, we scored a grand slam at Silverstone.
Marc and I both enjoy this circuit very much. It's my favourite venue and it tends to be successful for me. I particularly love the sequence through Copse, Becketts and then Stowe which you take at more than 250kph. What a buzz! If we are fortunate enough to clinch the Drivers' and Manufacturers' crowns, it will be my first title in motor racing! I have been chosen to qualify the N°7 car, and Stéphane Sarrazin has been tasked with the same mission in the other 908."
The 1,000km race (195 laps of the 5.141km circuit) starts on Sunday morning at 11.20am.
Television coverage: Eurosport and Motors TV.
Manufacturers' championship: Drivers' championship:
1. Peugeot 53 points 1. Minassian/Gené 32 points 2. Audi 47 points 2. Rockenfeller/ Prémat 30 points 3. Pescarolo 22 points 3. Sarrazin/Lamy 21 points 4. McNish/Capello 17 points