Peugeot's latest 908 HDi FAP Le Mans challenger successfully completed its first test at Paul Ricard, after joining the pre-season group session at the French track in preparation for the opening race at Monza next month.

Three chassis have now been completed, and the latest car's run at Ricard was the team's sixth and final outing before the 2007 series kicks off at Monza on 14-15 April. The two-day work-out ended with the single car at the top of the timesheets, despite some technical problems, and with 174 laps under its belt, equating to around 1000km. Sebastien Bourdais, who will join the team at Le Mans between Champ Car commitments, posted a 1min 43.705secs best lap to put the 908 ahead of its expected LMS rivals.

"It was a positive couple of days for us," confirmed Peugeot Sport director Michel Barge, "S?bastien's schedule means he hasn't been able to drive since early February and the session enabled us to give him some more time in the car. The same goes for Pedro Lamy, who had been sidelined since hurting his Achilles tendon in February. On top of that, we come away with the fastest time, which is encouraging."

After a few laps with St?phane Sarrazin at the wheel on Sunday morning, Lamy and Bourdais took turns to work on the 908's suspension set-up over the two-day session.

"We covered a fair amount of the planned programme, essentially during the second day," technical director Bruno Famin revealed, "An engine problem detected late on Sunday afternoon deprived us of a chance to do some endurance and night-time running, but we were back on the pace on Monday morning, which enabled us to cover a further 91 laps without any major trouble, with the exception of a minor electrical problem. Even so, a great deal of work still needs to be done on the reliability front."

Bourdais admitted that a lot of development work had been done in his absence, but echoed Famin's assertion that there was still a lot to be done if the car was to challenge for 24 Hours honours in June. Lamy, meanwhile, was happy to report no problems on his return from injury.

"I regret not having been available to work on the car's development, but it's nice to see that I was able to drive this weekend without feeling any awkwardness whatsoever," the Portuguese ace said, "That wasn't necessarily a foregone conclusion following the surgery I underwent to my right foot, but I will be fit to compete in the opening race at Monza."

 

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