The main feature of the 207 LW is the fact that it is based on an entirely showroom spec car (a lightweight version of the 207 RC), and that includes its tyres. In its bid to keep costs to a minimum, Peugeot Sport wanted to keep the formula simple and affordable, but it also saw it as a chance for young racers to learn the ropes. If the full entry list – with more than 40 drivers registered – and the exciting race action are anything to judge by, the cocktail is clearly a success.
That said, the recent encounter in Pau and this weekend's clash at Val de Vienne have seen the Coupe 207 THP make two foways away from the Rencontres Peugeot Sport meetings which generally provide the framework for the series, although competitors will return to the championship's Rencontres roots for mid-July's gathering at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.
By then, the ebullient pack will have had two chances to topple the provisional leader Ludovic Bellinato who has yet to win a race but whose remarkable consistency has seen him move slightly clear after the first four races. He only failed to finish on the podium in the first race at Pau, which means he has regularly finished in the big points. One driver who would like to say the same thing is Quentin Morel.
After the Angoulême-based youngster's two excellent performances at Magny-Cours at the start of the season, he seemed to be heading for more success in Pau where he secured pole position for both races. His chances were dashed, however, when he was sidelined by a big crash after qualifying. With the invaluable help of his family, he is busily trying to rebuild his car in time for his home round at Val de Vienne.
The year has been marked so far by an interesting clash between the championship's experienced campaigners and the under-25 brigade. The youngsters, led by Morel, Kévin Ropars, Mathieu Lambert and Steven Palette got off to a flying start, but their elders gained the upper-hand round Pau's demanding street circuit, and the likes of Bellinato, Laurent Fresnais, Romuald Jolivière and, above all, Florent Priez have eased to the top of the provisional standings!
Priez, who races for the Julien Briché-run Team JSB, has effectively caused something of a stir recently. He was immediately on the pace when he made his debut in the series at the end of the 2007 and has since followed up his slowish start to this year's campaign with two wins through the streets in Pau where he wasn't really considered to be a favourite. He will no longer have the advantage of surprise at Val de Vienne, however, and he is currently just nine points behind Bellinato.
Coupe 207 THP standings going into Val de Vienne: 1, L. Bellinato (59 points). 2, L. Fresnais (53). 3, F. Priez (50). 4, R. Joliviere (44). 5, Q. Morel* (39). 6, D. Rahard (26). 7, S. Seveau (24). 8, K. Ropars* and E. Coppens (23). 9, M. Carrée (21). 10, M. Lambert* (20). Etc.
*Juniors (under 25 years old)
1/ Magny-Cours April, 19-20
2/ Pau (WTCC) May, 31 mai-June, 1st
3/ Val de Vienne (Super Série FFSA) June, 28-29
3/ Spa-Francorchamps (B) July, 19-20
4/ Lédenon September, 13-14
5/ Nogaro October, 18-19
6/ Dijon November, 7-8
- Cécile Estenave-