PEUGEOT 308TCR: ENDURANCE-SPEC PEUGEOT 308TCR READY TO RACE AT SPA 500
PEUGEOT SPORT Customer Service - Peugeot 308TCR - Spa 500, 4-6 October 2019
A Peugeot 308 TCR newly optimised for the demands of endurance racing will take on the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit on 4-6 October in a brand new blue riband TCR-only race: the TCR Spa 500.
PEUGEOT SPORT Customer Service has been directly involved in the development of a new specification 308TCR specifically to meet the demands of endurance racing, teaming up with DG Sport Compétition for operational support. They will field a trio of French drivers that learned their craft in PEUGEOT SPORT’s Promotion Formula.
TCR Spa 500 is a brand new 500-lap race which – depending on factors like weather and safety car interruptions – will take somewhere between 21 hours and an enforced maximum duration of 23 hours to complete. It’s a fearsome challenge that will give the new endurance evolution of the Peugeot 308TCR a chance to shine in one of the toughest events in TCR history.
All three drivers have put the Peugeot 308TCR through a rigorous testing programme to develop the new endurance specification. They were aided by PEUGEOT SPORT engineers with decades of experience at the highest levels of motorsport, ranging from endurance racing to rallying and rally-raid.
Hopes are high for a strong result. Briché won the second TCR Europe race at Spa-Francorchamps earlier this year with a Peugeot 308TCR, his second consecutive victory there in as many years. In addition, Briché also has more TCR Europe wins this season than any other driver thus far. Aurélien Comte has experience of the Peugeot 308TCR at the highest level, having raced for DG Sport Compétition in WTCR last season and in TCR Europe this year. Last year’s 308 Racing Cup champion Teddy Clairet completes the trio of factory PEUGEOT SPORT drivers, marking his first experience of round-the-clock endurance racing after a debut season in TCR Europe that has demonstrated his excellent driving performance.
Beyond the normal challenges of a long-distance race, the TCR Spa 500 offered up some extra challenges. The biggest different is the tyres, which are supplied by a different manufacturer than in TCR Europe and thus provide different characteristics – a learning curve for both drivers and engineers.
A race over 20 hours long around Spa-Francorchamps makes it near-certain that weather will play a crucial factor in the race outcome. The Ardennes Forest which envelopes the circuit is notorious for unpredictable and sudden changes in conditions that can cause strategy headaches.
PEUGEOT SPORT’s main objectives with the new endurance-spec 308TCR were focused on reliability to cope with the demands of such a long race, but without compromising on the performance of the standard “sprint” specification car. Tweaks included new engine mapping, a new lighting system and optimising the car for the shortest possible pit-stops, which makes all the difference in a long race.
A customer “endurance” kit for the Peugeot 308TCR will also be offered to PEUGEOT SPORT customers in the coming weeks.
Burton Racing is also fielding a privateer 308 TCR in the Am category, with its line-up headed by Pierre-Yves Corthals. Belgian native Corthals is one of the most experienced campaigners at Spa-Francorchamps, having competed in the 24 hour event many times in the past.
WHAT THEY SAID…
Laurent GUYOT – PEUGEOT SPORT Customer Competition Manager:
“The TCR Spa 500 represents the perfect opportunity for us to push the Peugeot 308 TCR further than ever before. For Peugeot Sport, this race has a special meaning: we were the final winners of the touring car regulation-era of the Spa 24 Hours, taking back to back wins in 1999 and 2000 with the 306 GTI, so a programme in this new endurance event for TCR cars around Spa-Francorchamps was a natural choice. Any endurance race is tough, but the unique challenge of Spa-Francorchamps will ensure only the best cars in the TCR field have a chance of success. We have not underestimated the challenge ahead, so have been working to improve and fine-tune an endurance-spec 308 TCR with a dedicated testing programme. With our three factory TCR drivers – Julien Briché, Aurélien Comte and Teddy Clairet – representing DG Sport Compétition’s entry to the race, we are leaving nothing to chance!”
Julien BRICHÉ - Peugeot 308TCR #308, driver:
“Back in 2006 I did the Le Mans 24 Hours, in a Peugeot-powered car, so I have some idea about what to expect from this 500-lap race from the human side, although of course this will be a completely different challenge. The tests went well: the car feels very similar to my regular Peugeot 308TCR to drive; the only big difference is the tyres. The objective, above all, is to be there at the finish: in order to achieve that, you need a car and drivers that are very consistent, so that will be our aim. You can never say that you feel confident heading into a race like this one, but we feel prepared, which is the main thing. I think the biggest unpredictable element will be the weather, which is always the case at Spa. We’ll just have to take that as it comes and do the best job that we can. As soon as we get to Spa we’re straight into practice, press conferences, and the race, so it’s non-stop from here on!"
Aurélien COMTE - Peugeot 308TCR #308, driver:
“The test at Zolder and Spa was good. There was quite a lot of rain in the test, which is a great simulation for the race as it always rains at Spa! There will be a different mentality here, as you go from driving your own car to sharing one as a crew of three. The driving will be different too: in a sprint race you go 100% flat out, but in an endurance race you deliberately drive slightly below your ultimate pace. The most important element of strategy for this race is to not damage the car! So that’s why you always need to leave a little bit of margin. The three of us all have night-driving experience from the Rencontres Peugeot Sport, which has an endurance race at Paul Ricard. It does take a little bit of time to get used to driving at night, but it’s also quite amazing how quickly you can adapt to it. We’ve got some quick drivers in the field like Pepe Oriola and Tom Coronel, so some of the drivers we’re up against are very quick, but the field is a bit of a mixed bag overall, so we’re not sure what to expect. Let’s see!”
Teddy CLAIRET - Peugeot 308TCR #308, driver:
“I’m so happy and grateful to Peugeot Sport for giving me this amazing opportunity. I really want to do my best to repay the faith they are showing in me. I know Peugeot are going there with the objective of winning the race, so it’s a big challenge to live up to. It’s a particularly exciting event, as it’s the very first Spa 500, but if you look at the number of TCR championships and how it’s growing around the world, there’s nothing to suggest it won’t go on to be a huge annual event every year like the Spa 24 Hours, so it’s exciting to be part of that from the very beginning. Spa itself is an incredible circuit to drive, there is a bit of everything. There’s so many factors: the circuit, the weather, the opposition, but most of all it’s very important to have a reliable and clean run and spend the least amount of time in the pits as possible. I’ve got a little bit of experience of endurance racing but not much, but with the amount of experience Peugeot Sport has in this style of race, I’m in very good hands. I’m sure the team will choose a very good strategy. In a race as challenging as this one, you need to make sure you get some sleep and rest when it’s not your turn in the car. But that’s not going to be easy, the excitement of being in the race might make it quite hard to sleep!”
LIVESTREAM ON : http://www.tcr-series.tv/ (local time)
- Friday, 4 october
19:00 - 21:00: Night pratice
- Saturday, 5 octobe
11:00 - 11:30: Qualifying
- race livestream:
From Saturday, 5 octobe 15:00 (start: at 16:00) to the the finish race: Sunday, 6 october 15:00.
RACE TRACK DATAS
Date of creation: 1921
Corners: 19 (9 right / 10 left)
Length: 7,004 km
THE SPA 500 RACE
The race is expected to cover a maximum of 23 hours from 17:00 on Saturday 5 October: adding night racing to the extensive repertoire of the Peugeot 308TCR. Before then, there will be two practice sessions on Friday, including a two-hour night practice session, and one hour of qualifying on Saturday morning.
Friday, 4 october
13:55 - 15:55: Free practice
19:00 - 21:00: Night practice
Saturday, 5 october
09:00 - 10:00: Qualifying
17:00: Start race
Sunday, 6 october
17:00: Finish race - Podium
CONTENT & SOCIAL MEDIA
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Copyright-free images for editorial use TCR Europe and 308TCR: https://bit.ly/2IZiY8A ©PEUGEOT SPORT / Flavien Duhamel