Sebastien Bourdais believes it will be vital for Peugeot to focus on its own race and not get drawn into unnecessary battles with its chief turbodiesel rival Audi if it is to repeat its 2009 victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours this weekend. The four-time Champ Car champion, who shares the No. 9 908 with Pedro Lamy and Simon Pagenaud, says that it would be hugely important to resist the temptation to get involved in on-track battles early in the race.
"The temptation will be there to get involved in the race," said the Frenchman, who has made an IndyCar comeback this year with Dale Coyne's team for the road course events. "And to try and pass and to make a break or something, so I think it will be very crucial to avoid it and not to over-do it. Problems don't occur so much with the cars these days. I think we are a lot more hard on the cars in the endurance sessions than we are at Le Mans.
"Engine-wise, the one that blew up the first [last year] was actually the one that had been running the least amount of load because from 2 am or something like that we'd already started to get the power down so it doesn't always pan out as you'd like. But all the endurance sessions are done in very hard conditions, very high temperatures then very low temperatures and with bigger restrictors to make it even harder on the duty cycles.
"So it's more to do with how you treat the cars. There's not so much the driver can actually do to damage the drivetrain, engine and gearbox. What you can do, obviously, is get stupid with cubs and stuff like that and you expose yourself to suspension failures and rockers. That's what I mean – not getting too crazy about the initial phase of the race, where I think it will be closely matched and we will stay within a lap of each other."
Bourdais also reckons that this year's event has the potential to be the most intensely fought out Le Mans yet between Audi and Peugeot.
"It's probably going to be the tightest Le Mans we've ever had," he said. "We'll see how it shapes up.
"From a driver's perspective it would surely mean more [to win this one]," he added. "But at the end of the day it's crucial not to get too excited. It's going to be very easy to get in the fights and just get your nose in to places where you shouldn't, make mistakes that are definitely going to make sure that you don't win the race. It will be a matter of staying in the [lead] group but not giving it the all."