Peugeot says it sees next week's Sebring 12 Hours mainly as preparation for the Le Mans 24 Hours, but is not shying away from a bid to win the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup opener.
The French company's latest-generation 908 LMP1 car makes its racing debut in the ILMC/American Le Mans Series event next weekend, and team boss Olivier Quesnel thinks victory is possible, if not a priority.
"First and foremost, our aim is to win the race in June," said Quesnel. "But of course, if we don't have any particular problems in Sebring from a sporting or technical point of view, the result will look after itself."
Peugeot technical director Bruno Famin said Sebring will be valuable learning experience with the new car.
"Our main objective in the United States is to accumulate experience," he said. "The 908 is a totally new car and like any new car, we'll need to work on it and spend time driving it in order, among other things, to develop its reliability. We'll therefore be following our specifications, aiming to complete the full 12 hours so we can rack up plenty of track time and thus acquire valuable information about the car. We also need to learn how to get the best out of it. That's what we have been doing in private testing, but now we need to do it in race conditions. From both a technical and human perspective, there is still a lot to get to grasps with on all levels."
Quesnel added: "It's an unusual event, where there is always a lot of incidents in the race. It's a typically American race with a lot of safety car periods and different rules to those at Le Mans, especially in terms of pit stops. It can all change in a flash! So it's a great exercise for our entire team – the drivers, engineers and mechanics - where the challenge is to perfect your preparation in what can sometimes be fairly extreme conditions. We need to be ready for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, while keeping a close eye on the championship."
Peugeot confirmed its driver plans for Sebring, with Marc Gene qualifying the No. 7 car, Alex Wurz driving the first stint, and Anthony Davidson completing the lineup. The No. 8 car will be qualified by Stephane Sarrazin and started by Franck Montagny, with Pedro Lamy also on board.
Peugeot's arch-rival Audi is still fielding a version of its old R15 for Sebring, with Joest running two cars, before the 2011 R18 appears later in the season. The old-spec Peugeot 908 will also be present with Le Mans Series champion team ORECA.