Launch Season: Peugeot 908

Peugeot 908 HDi FAP

The 2009 edition of the Peugeot 908 was launched yesterday.

The car looks substantially the same as last year, albeit with a rear wing 400mm narrower per the ACO’s regulations for this season. Pug’s engineers say they’ve been working on the engine mapping, cooling and traction control systems. Partly this is due to the new rules cutting power by 10% on last year, and partly this is because Peugeot really struggled with overheating last year. It cost them the win at Le Mans because the airflow when it was raining wasn’t sufficient to cool the engine. There were other factors as well of course, like their crazy tyre decisions and inexperienced drivers (many were new to sportscars, anyway), but the cooling was a major factor.

Also in ‘cooling news’, the roof sports a ‘reflective chromelike aluminium covering’ according to Olivier Quesnel.

A surprise announcement on the driver front, to me at least, was the unveiling of Sebastien Bourdais and David Brabham. Bourdais was rumoured on Thursday night, which was a surprise to me because nobody has dovetailed a full F1 season with an attack on Le Mans for many, many years. The last to try the F1/LM crossover was Franck Montagny (fairly recently too, say 4 years?) but he was just an F1 test driver. at the time.
Brabs wasn’t on my radar at all for this, maybe I missed a comment on Midweek Motorsport (I’m still an episode behind) or other sources. I had thought he was still signed to drive the Acura and perhaps he is, which is why he won’t appear at Sebring.

The full driver line-up:
S Bourdais, D Brabham, M Gene, C Klien, P Lamy, N Minassian, F Montagny, S Sarrazin, A Wurz.


It’s still a fantastic-looking car.

Peugeot confirmed their plans for the first half of 2009: they will take two cars to the 12 Hours of Sebring in March, and three cars to the 1000km of Spa-Francorchamps in May before sending all three to Le Mans. There is no word on what will become of the team after Le Mans. In my opinion they’ll see what Audi does, and how they perform against Audi (and Aston!) in the big race.

Drivers confirmed for Sebring:
Car 7: Minassian / Lamy / Bourdais
Car 8: Montagny / Sarrazin / Klien

This leaves Gene, Brabham and Wurz for the 3rd car if the line-ups remain the same. Line-ups for Spa will be confirmed at a later date.

Photo credit: Peugeot Sport

PS – yes, I know I didn’t post about the new Acura. They aren’t going to Le Mans. Yet..
PPS – I’m begging you here, PLEASE get the name right. “Le Mans”. There are TWO WORDS. Writing “LeMans” (or “Lemans” which is worse) really does annoy me! I don’t mind it on Twitter because of the character limit. A pet peeve of mine, just like hyphenating ‘F1’.

News Round-Up

I hope everyone had a good New Year! I had a quiet one after spending the last two years in central London, and the previous one in Edinburgh (the Home of Hogmanay and the best New Year’s Eve street party in the world!). This year I just played a bit of Mario Kart Wii before heading into the middle of the little town I live in for the moment itself.

I thought I should catch up on some of the smaller bits of news I missed when I was revising for an exam in December, believe it or not when you summarise it a lot did actually happen even if it seemed very quiet day-to-day. And not all of it was bad, either. I’ll skip the things reported by my blogging colleagues at the time, I mean we’ve all seen that, right?

F1
– Big news in sponsorship as Vodafone takes their primary sponsorship from McLaren to Ferrari for 2009 onwards.

– Allianz will continue with WilliamsF1 for the forthcoming year, however technical partner Lenovo have instead joined McLaren. No word on the plans of RBS after the bank was bailed out by the British government a few months ago, my fellow taxpayers and I now own 60% of the company.

– Teams have been testing the KERS system and new aero package, to varying degrees. BMW, Honda and Williams were among the first to test the new gear, while Red Bull has been running with ’08 systems simulating ’09 rules.

IRL
– 2008 GP2 champ Giorgio Pantano is looking for a ride in the US after the F1 teams showed no interest in him.

– Penske continue to state that an announcement on Helio’s ride – i.e. will he drive or will there be a replacement – will be made ‘in the next few weeks’, although they’ve been saying that since November.

GP2
– Pastor Maldonado has signed with ART Grand Prix for the ’09 European series. His teammate is expected to be Nico Hulkenberg.

– The Asia series is continuing with what is becoming a regularly revolving cast of characters. Seems several teams are using it as an extended driver test for the main series.

– The February round of the Asia series at Dubai has been moved to Qatar, and will become a night event under the floodlights. MotoGP race under the lights there last year.

F2
– At least 20 drivers have been signed up to the revived F2 series for this year and it looks to be oversubscribed, in which case it will be capped at 24 drivers. So far 10 drivers have been officially announced by MSV and more are being added to this page every week, presumably in order to get more PR from staggered announcements which is a good move.

– Great to see Red Bull joining the party and helping legitimise the series further, alongside MotorSport Vision and WilliamsF1.

F3
– Carlin Motorsport have switched from Mercedes engines to Volkswagen, marking a big increase in VW’s presence in both the Euroseries and the British one. Carlin say they are following their backers Red Bull, who announced in November that all teams they are backing in F3 will run with VW.

– VW already confirmed they are dropping RC Motorsport, and will continue with Signature-Plus (both for the Euroseries), while in Britain they’ll join with T-Sport.

Sportscars
– The Le Mans pre-event Test Day has been cancelled to reduce the costs for both competitors and organisers. Wednesday’s qualifying has now become a mandatory practice session.

– Leo Mansell and dad Nigel tested the Ginetta-Zytek 07S LMP sportscar at Valencia. Meanwhile Leo’s brother Greg tested the World Series by Renault FR3.5 car in a group test at Paul Ricard, back in November.

– Barwell Motorsport will not going back to ALMS this year with their bio Aston Martin. They will instead enter the LMS and FIA GT3. I’m not sure if they’ll use that car but they will run Astons.

– BMW have been testing their GT2 class M3 in the US with World Touring Car drivers Andy Priaulx, Jorg Muller and Augusto Farfus. Priaulx says he’d like to take part in some ALMS races in the car, but Sebring clashes with a WTCC event at Puebla. Joey Hand and Bill Auberlen have been announced as the drivers of Rahal Letterman Racing’s M3.

– The Britcar 24 Hours at Silverstone has been reduced to a 6-hour event for 2009 for cost containment reasons. Organisers hope to return the race to the full distance in 2010. It has only been running since 2005.

– Ex-Super Aguri driver Anthony Davidson tested a Peugeot 908 HDi at Paul Ricard and is the running for a race drive. Go Ant!

Other
– Both Subaru and Suzuki have pulled out of the World Rally Championship. Kawasaki looks set to announce a pull-out from MotoGP next week. Seems like the Japanese car and bike makers are in trouble.

– 1998 and 1999 F1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen has become a driver manager, alongside his own manager Dider Coton.

– A1GP has agreed with the Chinese government to run two rounds per season for the next five years. Venues were not confirmed. A1 has raced in Shanghai, Beijing, Zhuhai and Chengdu since the series started in 2005.

– Organisers of the Surfers Paradise street race are building a pit/paddock complex for 40 teams in time for the ’09 event. That should be enough to service all of the A1GP and V8 Supercar teams.

– The Dakar Rally gets under way this week, but in Argentina. The African event was cancelled last year due to terrorist theats which prompted the move over the Atlantic, however a rival series called Africa Race has been set up and will be running at the same time albeit with far fewer numbers competing.

Blog
– Check out the Last.FM radio player in the white sidebar!

– The blog might be quieter than intended between now and June as I am in my final year of an accountancy course. It isn’t quite ‘Accountant’ level, its the level just below it, but that doesn’t make it easy! So I’ll be quite busy doing that.

– It’s New Year’s Day, I didn’t drink stupendous amounts last night yet my head still hurts because I have a cold, only a mild one but I HATE colds. Especially ones I pick up during a stock-take at work on NYE. I need a good rant so might come back soon to tell you all my pet peeves.

All stories shamelessely pilfered from the pages of the last several editions of Autosport magazine and reworded by me.