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Helary confident of Peugeot drive

Eric Helary believes he will land a race drive with Peugeot for next year's 24 Hours of Le Mans after being announced as their official test driver today

As predicted by Autosport last month, Helary will get his first taste of the new diesel-powered Peugeot 908 in December this year, and will carry out the majority of the car's early development work.

Although he wasn't confirmed as one of the team's six race drivers when the programme was formally launched today, the Frenchman expects to be confirmed as part of their race line-up when it is revealed in January 2007.

The 39-year-old Frenchman scored the second of Peugeot's Le Mans victories with the 905 Group C car in 1993.

"I did Le Mans 11 times with many cars and I was always competitive so I'm not too worried," Helary told autosport.com. "I've worked with Peugeot for a long time, my first year with them was 1991.

"My whole racing life was almost always with Peugeot so I'm really proud to be again with them for this very exciting challenge.

"There's a lot of work to do, we know that, but there are really so many people involved with this project, and they are so good: everybody is top level. We know Audi are strong, but I think we'll be really strong too. It's a very big challenge but we are ready.

"We'll start to drive the car at the beginning of December, but we don't know where nor how.

"It will just be the first laps, that's all, and then we will see. We'll have to test a lot because with the race being in June time will be very short so we'll need to make the most of those few months."

Helary is competing with Pescarolo Sport in this year's race, teaming up with double World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb and Super Aguri's Franck Montagny, and is hopeful of his chances.

"Yes, for sure [we can win]," he added. "Even if we have nothing compared to Audi in terms of budget. We have a really good chance especially this year, with Audi having a new, diesel engine. We hope they will have some troubles.

"First of all I hope we won't have so much rain tonight, because yesterday was a nightmare.

"The car was nearly undriveable on so much rain last night. We had aquaplaning and very bad grip except at the end of the session, when we changed the set-up and it got better.

"At the beginning it was very difficult: most of us went off and we all spun the car. It was dangerous, but now it's much better."

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