Sarrazin satisfied by recovery drive
|By Simon Strang||Sunday, September 27th 2009, 02:44 GMT|
Stephane Sarrazin and Franck Montagny were satisfied by the manner of their victory in the 2009 Petit Le Mans, despite the 10-hour race being called off because of torrential rain eight minutes before the halfway mark.
The duo helped Peugeot become the first French manufacturer ever to win an American endurance race, after fighting back into contention following a poor start and taking advantage of two spins from hitherto race leader Allan McNish in the Audi R15 TDI.
"I am just very happy," said Sarrazin. "The team did a very good job. The start was difficult in the wet. We decided to start with a dry set-up and I had a big problem with the rear of the car and after that I was two laps behind.
"After that we caught up very quickly with the guys at the front with our strategy. And so I have a very good feeling, I am very happy."
Sarrazin admitted that he and Montagny had to produce more than a 100 'qualifying style laps' to recover the ground they lost in the wet early stages.
And though he was disappointed that the race had not gone to full distance, he felt the effort they put in by the team warranted the result they achieved.
"We were not expecting so big a rain storm so I was bit disappointed because I would like to have had 10 hours flat out," he said. "I was waiting for the last hour and looking forward to a big fight with Allan, that would have been really cool.
"I am happy, it is very good to cross the line the winner. I am very happy to finally win after missing out at Sebring and Le Mans."
Montagny added that it felt odd to win a race after waiting for a restart for more than three hours, only to find out it would not be re-started.
"We won the 12 hours of Le Mans and now we have won the five hours of Petit, so it is a kind of strange feeling," he joked. "We always had a good car, a good strategy and a good set-up for the race.
"Unfortunately today we started with the wet conditions and we didn't test here last week so we had no chance to prepare a good set-up for the conditions. But anyway, we felt quite good, we had some problems because it was drying out and we didn't use the correct tyres maybe and it was really difficult to stay on track at this time.
"But as soon as we put on the slick tyres we were really fast and we could catch up really easily on the quick guys. We just did 170 qualifying laps and we caught back up quite quickly."
The Peugeot squad recovered two laps to put themselves back in contention, and moved to the front when McNish spun in damp conditions behind the safety car.
Sarrazin said that he sympathised with the Audi driver, who otherwise would have given the German manufacturer its tenth Petit Le Mans victory, taking into account the circumstances and timing of the storm that eventually ended the race.
"It is difficult to warm the tyres when you are running behind the safety car and when I saw him sliding I was not really surprised," he said. "It was really difficult for us also. It was cold and they tried to warn us to restart very quickly.
"I would like to have had a full race and cross the line the winner, but we didn't and this is not our fault. We did our best in the time we had and the team did a very good job to bring the two cars to the top. That was the main target and we were very happy for that."