Third time lucky for Peugeot at Le Mans 2009

2009 becomes the year of the long waited victory for the the Peugeot 908 Hdi FAP and its drivers, all ex-Formula One drivers, David Brabham (whose brother Gary won with Peugeot 16 years ago), Marc Gené and Alexander Wurz (who won here in 1996 on his debut).

From the end of the very first lap of this incredible race, Peugeot were in the first 2 places with Audi’s R15 struggling to match their pace in third. This was indicative of what was to come.

Unlike last year, where strategy, fuel consumption and driver errors let Peugeot down, this time, the Peugeot 908s did not fail. In their third participation at Le Mans, the French diesel prototypes managed to maintain a very high pace in order to beat Audi the previous Le Mans masters. Peugeot put two of their three works cars in the top two places, ahead of an Audi R15. The Marc Gene, David Brabham & Alexander Wurz crew won in the No.9 Peugeot 908, one lap ahead of the No.8 Peugeot 908 driven by Sébastien Bourdais, Franck Montagny & Stéphane Sarrazin. The race was very intense throughout, with the Safety Car coming out for 2 hours and 42 minutes altogether. Audi quickly lost two of their three works cars to an accident and mechanical problems.

The Audi No.1 car was one lap behind most of the time, with Allan McNish, Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen having to put up with many mechanical problems which prevented last year’s winners from taking the lead and beating the Peugeots. The No.1 Audi R15 TDI finished third overall, six laps down, just ahead of the No.007 Lola Aston Martin of the AMR Eastern Europe.

The Fastest Lap was set by Nicolas Minassian on lap 259 in a time of 3:24.352.

Porsche saved their weekend with the Danish victory of the No.31 Team Essex Porsche RS Spyder in LM P2 driven by Elgaard/Collard/Poulsen, 2nd was the No.33 Speedy Racing Sebah Lola Judd Coupé (Kane/Leuenberger/Pompidou) and the No.24 Oak Racing Pescarolo Mazda (Nicolet/Hein/Yvon) completed the podium in 3rd.

1st and 2nd in LM GT1 were the No.63 works Corvette (O’Connell/Magnussen/Garcia) and No.73 Luc Alphand Aventures private Corvette (Jousse/Maassen/Clairay) and in 3rd place finished the No.66 Jetalliance Racing Aston Martin DBR9 driven by Lichtner-Hoyer, Muller and Gruber, but half of the depleted LM GT1 field retired (No.68 JLOC Lamborghini Murcielago, No.70 Alphand Corvette C6.R and No.64 works Corvette C6.R).

Last but not least Ferrari topped the podium in LM GT2, in which was a very poor year for Porsche who did not have a finisher in the first 6 places. No.82 Risi Competizione F430 GT won for the second year in a row, No.97 BMS Scuderia Ferrari and No.83 another Risi Competizione Ferrari,finished 2nd and 3rd. For the first time in 10 attempts at Le Mans the Spyker Squadron from Holland recorded a finish in 6th place in LM GT2.

There were 32 classified finishers.