Somehow, although I was vaguely aware of Franck taking part in the LMS race this weekend, I didn’t see or hear anything about it until after the event.
I have managed to gather together the pertinent facts, though. Firstly, Franck and Sarrazin were left in the lurch when Nicolas Minassian pulled out due to some sprained ribs. He sustained the injury during some training earlier in the week, which is eerily similar to Franck’s broken leg last year – also picked up in training. Perhaps these intense training catchups are not such a good idea?
Anyway, our two plucky Frenchmen were left to share the driving duties between them. Bourdais took pole position in the number 3 Peugeot car, whilst our guys started third in the number 2.
The race itself? Chaos.
Franck had a crash with another car, and talking about the incident, he said:
“Unfortunately we had a hit with another car. He hadn’t seen me in the quick part of the track, and I hit the back of the car. I spun and I hit the tyres. I thought the car was really damaged. But the guys did a great job and fixed the car very quickly, so I was back on track in no time. So thanks very much to them.”
Thanks to them, and thanks also to whoever was smiling down on Peugeot. Shortly after the crash, the race was red flagged due to a power cut at the circuit. The red flag lasted for 40 minutes, allowing some speedy repairs to be made to the #2, but it also meant the race would run to the full six hour maximum, rather than distance covered. There appear to be some worries over why the Peugeot was allowed to be fixed up, but the car FKM crashed into – a KSM Lola – was not. Oh dear.
Still, when the racing got going again, it was all about keeping your foot down. Franck continues:
“After that I just tried to push very hard. I thought I was only going for one stint, but the team asked me to stay another stint inside the car, so I had to do two stints on the tyres and I had been very rough with them in the first. So we tried to manage this and set a decent pace on track, and then I passed the drive to Stephane and he did the job perfectly.”
In the end, despite some rain adding even more confusion to the mix, our duo finished second, just over a minute behind the victorious Bourdais and co.
Photo Credit: Eric Gilbert
Team boss Oliver Quesnel was happy overall:
“This is Team Peugeot Total’s fourth consecutive one-two finish! It was a very interesting race, despite the fact that the regulations concerning the safety car interventions were poorly complied with by the officials. I hope that between now and Le Mans, we can get this area sorted out so that it doesn’t impact on the result. The three Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs were very competitive and their different crews worked very well together, which is a good pointer for the Le Mans 24 Hours. Our strategy here was very effective, thanks in part to Meteo France for the first class information it provided us with. Today’s result is the fruit of our preparation work over the winter, but we haven’t lost sight of the fact that our overriding objective is still Le Mans, in a month’s time.”
Let’s hope I can manage to pay attention when Le Mans happens!