Peugeot confirm Sebring entry

Peugeot have confirmed that they will enter two cars for the Sebring 12-hour race as part of the manufacturers' preparation for the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours

The announcement, at their 2009 competition programme launch in Paris on Monday, means the team will go head-to-head with Audi's new R15 TDI and the factory Acuras of Highcroft Racing and De Ferran in the American classic on March 12.

The French company will run a pair of heavily-revised 908 HDi FAPs for Nicolas Minassian, Pedro Lamy, Christian Klien, Franck Montagny, Stephane Sarrazin and Peugeot returnee Sebastien Bourdais in the event.

They will then take all three Le Mans contenders to the Spa 1000kms in May, although they have yet to confirm whether they will participate in any more Le Mans Series events after the race at La Sarthe in June.

Peugeot Sport director Olivier Quesnel said: "Our busy test programme notably includes endurance simulation tests at a variety of circuits, and we will take part in two races upstream of Le Mans which will serve as full-scale dress rehearsals for everyone in the team.

"We have consequently chosen to compete in March's 12 Hours of Sebring, which is the opening round of the American Le Mans Series, with two cars and six drivers," he added.

"We will then take three cars in Belgium for the 1,000km of Spa- Francorchamps in May (8-10). We haven't yet decided what our programme after the Le Mans 24 Hours will be.

"We are looking at the different options to ensure the best possible exposure for the brand in promotional and media coverage terms, and also as a function of the level of competition."

The latest evolution, newly-livered 908 was also unveiled at the launch, featuring a eye-catching chrome-canopy and shorter rear-wing in keeping with the strict 2009 aero regulations in the LMP1 class.

"The livery of the 908 HDi FAP has changed," said Quesnel. "All the cars will now be predominantly blue, with the cockpit covered in a reflective chromelike aluminium covering aimed at keeping the temperature inside the car to a minimum."

The team's technical director Bruno Famin explained that the team had also focussed on improving several aspects of the car which set the pace throughout last year, yet failed to capture any of the major sportscar titles in 2008.

"The engine settings have been completely revised to take onboard the new air restrictor dimensions and the lower turbo pressure which has resulted in a fall in power of approximately 10 per cent," said Famin. "Significant work has gone into the 908's aerodynamics, too, in order to re-optimise the car's balance following the notable reduction in the width of rear wings which has been cut from two to 1.60 metres.

"We are also continuing with development work aimed at putting air-conditioning in the cockpit with a view to ensuring that the temperature inside the car stays within the regulatory threshold," he added.

"At the same time, we are working on enhancing the car's performance potential. This includes ongoing work on weight reduction in a bid to get close to the minimum limit, even with air conditioning, as well as optimisation of the diesel engine's combustion, particulate filters (in association with Dow) and fuel injection (with Bosch), plus research into defining best possible chassis/tyre package (with Michelin)."

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