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What do these extreme athletes have to do with motor sport?

By Peter McKay, 03 Jun 2009 Motorsport

What do these extreme athletes have to do with motor sport?

Actually, quite a bit. These blokes are Peugeot's 24 Hours of Le Mans drivers. Running at 300km/h on Mulsanne Straight doesn't worry them, and neither does hanging off the side of mountains. Next year: Mount Everest.

With the 2009 24 Hours of Le Mans racing up mighty fast, the Peugeot squad's nine drivers - laced with past and current Formula One racers, including Australia's David Brabham - were treated to a series of fine-tuning adjustments during a three-day fitness training programme in Chamonix, in the French Alps.

Two weekends from now (June 13-14), the stellar nine will be sharing three works prototype Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs. The fitness and relaxation regimen was intended to get them in the right frame of mind for one of the world's toughest endrance events.

"This is something we do every year, and the aim is above all to strengthen the bonds both between the drivers and within each three-man crews," explained team manager Serge Saulnier.

"Endurance racing is about forging a real team by federating the best of what each individual member has to offer. The range of activities on the week's programme not only gave them a chance to have a bit of fun, but also allowed them to get to know each other better in sometimes unexpected situations which called for close teamwork. I am very pleased with the way it went."

Nicolas Minassian, Pedro Lamy, Christian Klien, David Brabham, Alexander Wurz, Marc Gen&eacut;, Stéphane Sarrazin,Franck Montagny and Sébastien Bourdais were taken under the wing of fitness training specialist Patrick Chamagne and his staff for a programme of outdoor activities. With the drivers of each car working as a team, hostilities kicked off on the Wednesday with a programme of rafting, climbing and abseiling, followed by a game of soccer.

Thursday's menu got the adrenaline running with a visit to the Mer de Glace glacier and the Aiguille du Midi mountain, followed by a short bike ride.

The week concluded on Friday with canyoning, hiking and tennis. "It's really nice to be together. We talk about Le Mans, of course, but it isn't an obsession," reported Minassian, who judging by the shot of him dangling off the side of a mountain, isn't afraid of heights.

"The programme is very interesting, and the scenery issomething else! It's great being together; its' so important," added Brabham, who hopes to emulate the feat of brother Geoff, a Le Mans winner with Peugeot in 1993.

Fifty-five cars will start the '09 Le Mans, 21 from the outright prototype LMP1 category. These include, Audi, Peuegot and Aston Martin. Nine cars are diesel powered.