2011 PEUGEOT 908 V8 HDI FAP LMP1
Winner of the 6 Hours of Zhuhai in 2011
The ultimate evolution of the Peugeot 908
Overhauled by Peugeot Sport
ASCOTT COLLECTION is particularly proud to offer for sale the Peugeot 908 V8 HDI FAP chassis 908-07
The first-generation 908 - launched in 2007 - has fulfilled its mission: to make the brand shine at Le Lion en Sarthe and offer it a new success, beating Audi. But after four years and four attempts, Peugeot failed to completely supplant the four-ring team and its domination at Le Mans. The victory alone (2009) is not enough. A new design that takes into account the regulatory constraints dictated by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) is therefore essential for 2011. Thus was born the 90X project, Peugeot's response to produce an even more accomplished 908, capable of winning again everywhere, and especially at Le Mans.
The 908-07 chassis is one of the last two to enter competition in 2011 before Peugeot withdraws at the start of 2012. With only one race to its name, the final competitive outing for a 908, the 908 07 chassis is the culmination of Peugeot's endurance programme. The model heralded the transition to the hybrid, which in the end never took place. A unique collector's car, a masterpiece of modern endurance racing.
Peugeot 90X, a preparation in the shade
Since 2008, Peugeot has made no secret of its ambition to continue its long-term commitment to endurance racing by taking up the challenge of hybridisation. For from 2012, the ACO wants to allow competitors to compete in LMP1 with a modest but sufficient hybrid system to open up a new era, radically more modern and technological. Peugeot presented a draft 908 hybrid at Silverstone in 2008. With the very first 908 HDI FAP chassis (908-01), Peugeot Sport delivers a "demonstrator" and shows its desire. But it seems obvious that if there is a 908 hybrid, it will be around a brand new car.
The work is launched in the shadows, in parallel with the competition programme. At Vélizy, a new 908 is being prepared for the day after the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours. It was in November 2010 that official pictures of the car, still called 90X, were shown for the first time. Peugeot is running this car at Monza with a decoration directly modelled on the 908 entered in Le Mans in 2010. But this trompe l'oeil doesn't work in front of the most seasoned eyes. Because this 90X is indeed a different car.
Many changes on the 90X are subtle, other evolutions are more obvious. All the modifications are part of a single objective: to build a new Peugeot capable of winning Le Mans in 2011, then to receive a hybrid system in 2012. Audi, with its R18 TDi, follows exactly the same logic. Bruno Famin confirms this choice[i]. "In September 2008 (with the first hybrid prototype) we simply grafted a battery and an electric motor onto a 908 HDi FAP. For the whole thing to be effective in competition, we have to go much further. Unlike its predecessor, the new 908 is designed to accommodate an SREC.
One of the most notable differences on the 90X compared to the first 908 is the appearance of an air intake for engine cooling on top of the cockpit. The layout and design is reminiscent of the Toyota GT-One. This air intake is followed by the appearance of a "shark fin" on the rear hood. The 90X thus complies with the 2011 ACO regulations, which aim to stabilize cars in the event of an accident and prevent them from taking off. As an extension of this air intake and shark fin assembly, we notice rear aileron supports that now support the plane from above instead of from below.
But that's not all. The front evolves. The nose seems narrower, but it changes mostly in length. On the first 908, the nose was protruding from the front wheel fairings. It's much more contained on the 90X. In addition to the front section of the car, which is higher than before, the pontoons have been redesigned to optimize airflow. As a result, with a revised air distribution, we notice that the air periscopes for the turbos have also been largely modified. At Peugeot Sport, we like to say that, with the exception of the windscreen, no parts are common between the first-generation 908 and this 90X, officially christened the 908 in January 2011.
Peugeot 908 (2011), from V12 to V8
With this new 908, Peugeot goes from V12 to V8. A change imposed by the regulations which require a reduction in power.
The new engine runs for the first time on 25 January 2010 in Vélizy. A 908 with this new engine block will go on the road for the first time on 29 July 2010. This new V8 is... quite close to the V12! The V8 turbo-diesel has characteristics close to the V12 used previously, but its angle has been reduced to 90° (100° for the V12) for balancing reasons. This 3.7-litre V8 HDi FAP produces 550 horsepower.
While the new regulations have imposed new engines with reduced displacement, Peugeot has chosen the V8, Audi the V6. The two engines then had the same 3.7-litre displacement, but the Audi engine had the advantage of being shorter (ideal for better weight distribution and a better layout in the chassis). Smaller and lighter... and more open: Audi decided to open the angle of the V as much as possible (120°), as opposed to Peugeot.
The two turbochargers of the Peugeot 908 are positioned on the periphery of the V8, unlike Audi which, on its R18, houses the only turbo between the two rows of cylinders. To better transmit the power of the new V8, Peugeot asked its partner Michelin to develop a range of specific tires.
All these differences show just how very different the technical choices made at the time were, and yet they resulted in a superb struggle.
2011, the final season of the Audi-Peugeot duel
After a first ILMC season of only three races in 2010, and an already intense clash against Audi since 2007 (in the Le Mans Series and American Le Mans Series), 2011 sounds like a culmination. Peugeot wanted to make 2011 the year of success. The result was impressive: Peugeot won six out of seven races, leaving only the classic Mancelle.
It all started at Sebring. If it's a new 908 which takes pole position, the lap record and a fine third place in the final, it's a 2010 model which wins. Hughes de Chaunac's Oreca team took advantage of reliable equipment against brand new 908s and Audi R15+s at the end of their lives (the new R18 TDi only debuted at Spa-Francorchamps). In Belgium, this time it was the official 908s that took the lead. The new Peugeot 908 scored its first double. This final rehearsal before Le Mans gave the French brand a glimpse of things to come. The R18 TDi never seemed capable of competing.
Then came Le Mans. The 2011 edition was so intense, with a 13.854-second gap between the winning Audi R18 TDI and the N°9 Peugeot 908 on the finishing line. The French carmaker dominated the first part of the race but failed to overcome the Treluyer-Fässler-Lotterer trio, which was beginning its legendary run. But the three official 908s were at the finish, proof that the development of this new Peugeot has been serious. In contrast to the catastrophe of 2010 (with four retirements), the new Peugeot 908 is of exemplary reliability. Le Mans was lost, but the battle became part of the event's legend.
At Imola, after the Le Mans 24 Hours, Peugeot scored another double. Sébastien Bourdais and Anthony Davidson opened their joint victory record, which ended in Zhuhai with the 908-07. After Italy, Peugeot heads for the United Kingdom with Silverstone. Simon Pagneaud and Sébastien Bourdais give Peugeot another victory. Only one Audi R18 is on the podium, with the surprising Oak Pescarolo LMP1 on the last step.
At Le Petit Le Mans, Peugeot scored twice with the victorious 2011 version of the 908 (Montagny, Sarrazin, Wurz), ahead of the 2010 908 entrusted to the Oreca team. Zhuhai will be the ultimate race, the ultimate victory. A full season, with Le Mans as the only one missing.
Zhuhai 2011, jubilee of the 908, victory of the 908-07
The round in Zhuhai, China, marks the end of the 2011 season. Peugeot is arriving there with the ambition of triumphing in a commercially important country. But the stakes are lower in sporting terms. Indeed, thanks to its victory at Petit Le Mans in October, Peugeot Sport has already won the Manufacturers' championship.
This probably explains why two completely new chassis have been entered for this final race. The N°7 chassis of Sébastien Bourdais and Anthony Davidson is the 908-07. The N°8 of Franck Montagny and Stéphane Sarrazin is the 908-08. Both will become the last Peugeot 908s to be seen in competition. The idea is to have these two new 908s as a real working base, the fruit of all that has been learnt in one season, in order to prepare for 2012. Before the start, Bruno Famin explains: "The 908s will feature a number of relatively minor technical evolutions, in terms of suspension, steering and brakes, a slight modification to the car's chassis, which will make it easier to drive.