Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Bruno Famin's press release

So, Peugeot has issued the results of their post mortem. I am not sure how my readers (if there are any) actually find their way here, but it can be found in full on (or if you don't want to subscribe to dailysportscar). And you really need to have read both that and my own post Le Mans thoughts - which have been published only on - to make sense of this. On the assumption that you have, I shall proceed.

Firstly, I am impressed by Bruno Famin. I am also impressed by the English translation of his statement. (If only the publishers of the Le Mans annual would use the same translator, but that's another issue.)

Famin seems to get to the heart of Peugeot's engine problem without attributing any blame. It seems an honest and open analysis of what went wrong. There is the slight open question of what happened at the Sebring test, when a Peugeot arrived in the pits with a similar-looking flame from the exhaust pipe, looking suspiciously like an engine failure. Whether this alerted the men from Velizy to a conrod problem, and led to the development of the new part, we don't know.

It looks to me that the fundamental problem that Peugeot faced is the one of finding out where the limit is. I am reminded of one of Gilles Villeneuve's first tests in a Formula 1 car, when he spent the first session spinning at various corners, then went faster than anyone else had in the same car. In order to understand the limit, you need to go over it. Having a car that is reliable in testing is no use at all if your tests are not simulating race conditions.

By Famin's own admission, Peugeot's experience at Le Mans is limited to the four occasions they've been there since 2007. And of course Audi's experience since their debut in 1999 is augmented by all that they've learnt in their partnership with Joest Racing. In Famin's words: 'il est difficile de tout maƮtriser' (or 'it is very difficult to master everything').

As Audi discovered in 2009, when the R15's radiators got clogged up.

In a way, I find all this heartening: it shows that Le Mans is still a massive challenge, not just for the privateers, but also for the rich manufacturers. I feel that I can now draw a line under the 2010 race - what a classic.

And I hope that between now and the end of the year, we get a good set of regulations for next year's race, which will enable next year's race to be the starting point of a new era of sportscar racing.

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