The year-old ORECA Peugeot 908 which won the Sebring 12 Hours last March can win Le Mans only if it avoids trouble, according to team boss Hughes de Chaunac.
Although it was recently granted a 15kg reduction in ballast by the ACO, the car has to run smaller front wheels and its 5.5-litre engine is more heavily restricted than the new generation of turbodiesels.
"We have the same fuel tank size and the same fuel flow as the 3.7-liter cars," said de Chaunac. "Fifty-55 seconds is the average [pit stop time] that we are working to. We feel that we will be around 2.5 seconds slower [than the other diesels] on the race lap and we can do nothing about that. We have the same speed in the corners but in a straight line we are losing a lot.
"The only way to win is to avoid any mistakes by the drivers, or the mechanics and engineers. We have to do a perfect as we did in Sebring. The only area where we have had help at Sebring has been with the safety car, and the system is not the same here. The circuit is longer so there are two safety cars.
At Sebring Olivier Panis drove fewer stints than his teammates Nicolas Lapierre and Loic Duval but to reduce time lost in the pits, de Chaunac is determined to minimize driver changes in the opening phase of the 24 Hours.
"We will be doing three stints on the same tires with the same drivers. We've been working on that side. We will see in the middle of the race how each driver feels, depending on the weather conditions and the track speeds, and we can increase or reduce the length of time they are in the car."