BMW Sauber F1 Team Test and Reserve driver Christian Klien today hailed his team's 1-2 victory in Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix as the 25 year old Austrian prepared for an assault on next weekend's Le Mans 24 Hours at the wheel of one of the three factory Peugeot entries. Klien, who joined the BMW Sauber F1 Team for 2008, was in Montreal to support team mate Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld before leaving after qualifying on Saturday in order to begin his Le Mans preparations back in Europe.
"I am delighted for the entire BMW Sauber F1 Team, for Robert and Nick," said Christian. " When I joined the team last winter and then drove the BMW Sauber F1.08 I recognised the potential for real success this season. To achieve a 1-2 victory in this style, with both drivers on different strategies and Robert taking the lead in the Drivers World Championship is a very special moment. It is a great credit to the team in Hinwil and to Dr Theissen. I am sure this will also help to bring the team to an even higher level, as success tends to bring more success and I will continue to work hard to help them achieve their goals this season."
With the BMW Sauber F1 Team's success fresh in his mind, Christian will arrive in Le Mans this evening in order to prepare for qualifying ahead of next weekend's 76th running of the Le Mans Hours. After a competitive performance in official testing at le Mans on June 1st, when Christian's Peugeot 908 Hdi FAP was second fastest overall behind one of its sister cars, he is aiming to work closely with co-drivers Ricardo Zonta and Franck Montagny as they aim to bring Team Total Peugeot its first victory in the French classic.
"The official test was my first opportunity to drive at Le Mans, and the track is quite unbelievable," said Christian. "It is totally different from my experiences in Formula One because the track surface changes a lot during the lap and you are hitting 320kph / 199mph five or six times on each lap. The first part of the circuit is fine, and then of course you have the long straights, but the last section – through the Porsche Curves – is quite challenging and you really do have to concentrate fully all the time."
Christian's test at Le Mans took place on a wet or drying track, but he had no problem acclimatizing to the circuit in these conditions or to facing the hazard of much slower cars; "I drove mainly in the rain but didn't have any problems going quicker as the track started to drive. Obviously I don't have to worry about different classes of car in Formula One, so I was expecting some problems with speed differences at Le Mans, but it was fine; the only thing to be careful about it catching some of the gentleman drivers in the slower corners or bad conditions, but that's just part of the challenge of this race."
Christian is feeling confident that Team Total Peugeot has both speed and reliability on its side, but it sure that the race will not be straightforward; "For sure we are in good condition, but Audi will also be very strong. They are very experienced, with a good driver line-up too, so everyone in Peugeot realises that we will have to run a perfect weekend; that is what we have been preparing for, and I feel we are ready."
The atmosphere and unique history of the famous Le Mans 24 Hours race has already made an impact on Christian; "The atmosphere is quite special, and it is a great form of motorsport with many different types of cars, engines and drivers. You have the feeling of being at a unique event, with lots of people asking for autographs even at the official testing. I have really enjoyed working with Team Total Peugeot since the start of the year, and throughout testing and the official test last week. Now I am really looking forward to experiencing the race week at Le Mans, and to hopefully helping Peugeot to achieve its winning goal at the weekend. One week after the BMW Sauber F1 Team won its first race in Montreal, it would be great to be part of Peugeot's success in Le Mans."