Peugeot has lodged a protest against the front bodywork design of the Audi R15 TDI on the eve of practice for the Le Mans 24 Hours. The French squad claims that elements of the front bodywork constitute illegal aerodynamic devices, and is calling for a rules clarification.
"It would indeed seem that two features of the Audi R15 – in the configuration in which it was shown at technical scrutineering for the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours on June 8 – do not comply with Article 3.6.2 of the current technical regulations: the flap which links the two front wings; the appendages fixed to the inner surface of the front wings," said a Peugeot statement.
"These appendages and this flap effectively form part of the bodywork and their sole purpose is to generate downforce. These bodywork parts are considered to be aerodynamic elements. Since they do not appear on the list of aerodynamic elements authorised by Article 3.6.2, they are consequently not permitted."
Peugeot team boss Olivier Quesnel says his company initially raised the issue following the first meeting of its 908 HDi FAP and the Audi R15 TDI at the Sebring 12 Hours in March – and that it will take the matter to the FIA if the Le Mans stewards do not rule in its favor.
"Our protest dossier was already ready at the time, but the Automobile Club de l'Ouest made assurances that it would take the necessary steps ahead of the Le Mans 24 Hours," Quesnel said. "I insist on the fact that our approach is constructive and not aggressive. It seeks to clarify what is an unclear situation with a view to obtaining clear, precise regulations in order to prepare for the future. All competitors need stable, firm regulations that apply to everyone, with a strong regulatory body capable of taking decisions.
"We intend to take this matter to its conclusion, not with the intention of weakening endurance racing but of making it stronger. Should our protest not be upheld by the sporting stewards, we will lodge an appeal with motorsport's supreme governing body, the FIA."