Sold for $2,170,402 (€1,680,000) at 2012 RM Sothebys. Heading into the 2007 24 Hours of Le Mans there was a renewed sense of excitement and anticipation surrounding the endurance classic. The previous year had seen the new turbo-diesel developed by Audi Sport dominate the competition to take the overall victory in its maiden attempt. The reason for the excitement was simple: Peugeot was back and it was coming back with a powerful diesel of its own. Audi had a challenger and it came in the form of the 908 HDi FAP.
Originally conceived in 2005, the 908 project would start rather quietly despite Bruno Famin coming to the team becoming the Technical Director of the program. Besides Famin, Paolo Catone and Guillaume Cattelani would also join the team to begin the process of laying the groundwork for Peugeot's expected return to Le Mans in 2007.
By January of 2006 the car's basic outline and concept would be agreed upon. Finally, in June of the same year Peugeot would formally announce their intentions and would unveil the project to the public with a full scale concept car.
About the same time the concept car had been unveiled to the public, aerodynamicist Cattelani would be hard at work outlining the actual car that would hopefully take the fight back to Audi and give France its first overall champion in well over a decade. More than 500 hours of honing would go into the overall design of the car. In fact, the majority of the car's shape would already be determined by the time the concept model made the rounds. What the public didn't realize at the time was the real full scale car would look quite different from the concept. But still, some of the major elements were still very much a part of the car including the raised nose, the swept sidepods trailing detached wheel housings and, of course, the closed cockpit.
At the same time the car was being finalized, work continued on the diesel powerplant that would enable it to take the fight to Audi over the course of 24 hours. One major factor in the design of the engine, surprisingly, would be its weight. Diesel engine cylinder heads are quite burdensome due to the high cylinder pressures. This would affect handling given the positioning of the cylinders. The sought after positioning would be low towards the ground in order to maintain a low center of gravity. Therefore, a 100 degree V-pattern would be the desired design. In order to achieve the goal, the engine team would start out designing a single cylinder and building from there. What would result would be a 5.5-liter turbo diesel capable of producing very little sound and more than 700 bhp. Of course, it would be the torque figures that would end up making the greatest impact on any race. And in the case of the 5.5-liter engine, the torque figure would be well in excess of 885 foot-pounds.
With the two major elements in place, it was time to join them together and actually build them. Construction would begin in 2006 with the first unit being finished late in 2006. The design of the chassis would be a very important feature, not only for aerodynamics and handling, but also, for rigidity and strength. Instead of a tub, the carbon fiber monocoque body would not only provide the shape of the car, but also, would provide great strength and rigidity than previous tub designs.
The design would make use of electric power steering, carbon brakes and independent front and rear suspension utilizing pushrods, torsion bars and adjustable dampers. The car would feature a limited-slip differential; a cerametallic, multi-plate clutch and a longitudinal 6 speed gearbox capable of handling the incredible torque produced by the diesel engine.
A 908 HDI FAP would take to the track for the first time in December of 2006. The car would be in the hands of Eric Helary and would take place at Villacoublay, which is near Paris, France. The presentation of the actual car would then take place in January of 2007 with drivers Sebastien Bourdais, Marc Gene, Eric Helary, Pedro Lamy, Nicolas Minassian, Stephane Sarrazin and Jacques Villeneuve all being present.
The car would immediately prove itself with a 1st and 3rd at the 1000km of Monza. Victories in the 1000km of Valencia, the 1000km of Nurburgring and the 1000km of Spa would make it four consecutive victories in as many races. In total, the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP would enjoy six victories throughout the 2007 season. Unfortunately, the one that really mattered, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, would escape the 908 in 2007. In fact, chassis 03 would be the best finisher ending the race in 2nd place but some 10 laps behind.
Still, the 908 presented the greatest challenge Audi faced in more than half a decade. Eventually the 908 would take and impressive one-two victory in the 2009 24 Hours of Le Mans. The best Audi would end up in 3rd place some 6 laps behind the overall winner.
One of those initial 908s that was presented the challenge of taking the fight back to Audi would be chassis # 02. And for the first time, a Peugeot 908 HDi FAP would be offered for private ownership. Chassis 02, the very same chassis that earned overall victories in no fewer than six races, would be offered via RM Auctions event held at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco in May of 2012.
Chassis 02 would go on to earn some impressive victories. It would give Peugeot and the 908 its first victory when it won the 1000km of Monza in April of 2007. It would then earn back-to-back victories in the 1000km of Silverstone and Mil Milhas Brasileiras at the end of the season. In 2008, chassis 02 would go on to win the 2008 1000km Catalunya and the 1000km of Spa. At the 2007 24 Hours of Le Mans, chassis 02 featured a driver lineup that would include Indy 500 and Formula One World Champion Jacques Villeneuve. Therefore, had the car been successful it would have gone down in history as the car that helped Villeneuve achieve racing's 'Triple Crown'. But despite starting the race from 3rd place on the grid, chassis 02 would fail to finish the race as it would fall out with injection issues after having completed 338 laps.
Even despite its failure in the toughest motor race, chassis 02 would still go on to have checkered career and it would help to pave the way for Peugeot returning to the top of the French classic for the first time since the early 1990s.
Mean and aggressive in its looks and steeped in Le Mans and endurance racing history, not to mention being an important player in the fledgling rivalry with Audi Sport, chassis 02 certainly deserves a special place in any collection. Electronic and sporting successful diesel engine technology, Peugeot 908 chassis 02 rightly demonstrates all that Le Mans is to the automotive industry and is, in itself, a true piece of history anyone would be lucky to own.
Early estimates had the 908 HDi FAP chassis 02 valued between 1,500,000 and 1,800,000 EUR. When the bidding was done on Friday, May 12th the car would garner a sale price of 1,680,000 EUR.
Sources: 'Lot No. 382: 2007 Peugeot 908 V-12 HDI FAP Le Mans Racing Car', (http://www.rmauctions.com/CarDetails.cfm?SaleCode=MC12&CarID=r347&Currency=). RM Auctions. http://www.rmauctions.com/CarDetails.cfm?SaleCode=MC12&CarID=r347&Currency=. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
'Results of Chassis 2007 # 908-02', (http://www.racingsportscars.com/chassis/results/2007%20N%C2%B0%20908-02.html). Racing Sports Cars. http://www.racingsportscars.com/chassis/results/2007%20N%C2%B0%20908-02.html. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
'2007-2009 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP', (http://www.mulsannescorner.com/peugeot908.html). Mulsannescorner.com. http://www.mulsannescorner.com/peugeot908.html. Retrieved 15 May 2012.By Jeremy McMullen
In the early to middle part of the '90s, Peugeot was a major contender in its country's most famous race. Yet, by 2007, it had been almost an entire decade since the French 'Lion' had competed in the 24 hour of Le Mans enduro. Of course throughout much of the first decade of the new millennium it seemed every June France would have to endure another German blitzkrieg, just of a different sort. France needed to lay claim to home turf, and Peugeot was the one willing to stem the Audi onslaught.
Just as France was suffering from the overwhelming assault by Audi's new R10, with its diesel engine, Peugeot announced that it would again compete in the 24 hour race after being absent for almost a decade. This announcement, along with the unveiling of an early prototype of the 908, happened just one day before the start of the 24 hour race. Peugeot had also come to realize the performance advantages offered by a diesel engine and stated it would be their powerplant of choice for the 908. Of course, just two days later, that decision was proven to be a good one with Audi's victory in its R10. But, it also made the 'Lion' very much aware of its competition. This was not going to be an easy undertaking, especially given the fact Audi had already produced a diesel engine and had already achieved victory at Le Mans with it.
In the later part of 2006, Peugeot had unveiled a mock-up of a further refined 908, but it wasn't until the very early parts of 2007 that the 908 HDi FAP, that was to be used competitively, appeared. While it bore some similarities to the prototype displayed the day before the start of the 2006 24 hours of Le Mans, there were so many other changes that it was practically a whole new car.
Two things that did remain from the prototype to the actual 908 competitor were the closed cockpit coupe design and the V12 diesel engine Peugeot promised they would use. Unlike its Audi nemesis, the V12 diesel in the 908 was designed at an angle of 100°. Given the fact that diesel engines weigh more than petrol powered engines, Peugeot had designed the greater angle into its diesel to help lower the center of gravity of the engine's weight. This obviously helps with the stability of the car when its really heavy component's center-of-gravity is lower to the ground. Twin-turbochargers help Peugeot's V12 to develop over 700bhp and almost 900 ft-lbs of torque. And, with its closed coupe design, the 908 is expected to have an even-greater advantage over the Audi R10 in outright speed.
First impressions of the actual 908 HDi, that would be competing with Audi out on the track, was that its nose bore a striking resemblance to the design of another French company's Formula One car. The nose was like the Renault RE20 from the early '80s, only lifted in the air by twin-pillars. The width of the nose at its leading edge is rather narrow but it widens at a rather aggressive rate until it equals the width of the cockpit. The raised nose isn't like the nose designs incorporated into Formula One designs. By lifting the nose more area of the deck-flooring can be used as a wing-like surface for the purposes of generating downforce. However, on a Formula One car, the approach or philosophy of design is to channel air through the car, since it is an open wheel car. As a result, the splitter, which divides the air toward either side of the car, is positioned much further back, under the driver's legs. Channeling air through the 908 wasn't the major concern, and so, just after the twin-pillars that hold the nose up there is a wider splitter that more quickly, and greatly, divides the air to pass by the nose toward either sidepod. The twin-pillars were also positioned and attached to the nose in such a way as to keep any impedance to the airflow, as it bends around the splitter, to a minimum.
The sloping angle of the nose itself is almost nothing. Near where the suspension members are attached, the bodywork of the nose is practically horizontal to the ground. The nose width widens ever more greatly and is integrated with fairings and shrouds that cover the linked suspension members. These shrouds and fairings are more aerodynamically efficient than just round pieces of steel suspension members hanging out in the air. This is obvious when looking at the design of modern Formula One suspensions.
Just to the inside of the front wheel fairings are smaller ducts that direct airflow into the wheels to help with brake cooling. The splitter incorporated into the false floor, which is the area between the wheel fairings to which the nose attaches, gently slopes up helping to generate overall downforce for the car. As the air sweeps up this slope the ducts just inside the wheels capture the airflow in that area and direct it into the wheel to help with brake cooling. Of course the major of the car's downforce at the front is generated by the horizontal nose splitter. It is the piece of material horizontal to the ground that protrudes forward of the car. Air is forced either up-and-over the horizontal leading edge, or, is directed underneath the car toward the radiator inlets and the undertray and out of the diffuser at the rear of the car. The air that flows underneath the splitter is accelerated and creates a vacuum that pulls the front of the car down toward the track.
The front wheel fairings are shaped similar to an aircraft wing, only turned up on its end. A greater arc is present from the headlights inward to the brake cooling ducts. A shallower arc exists toward the side of the car. There is enough of an arc toward the outside of the car so that it can undoubtedly be used to attach the small wing planes that help to balance a car and that are used by so many teams.
The headlight arrangement of the 908 is very simple and straightforward. Two high-candle-powered headlights sit in the wheel fairing stacked on top of each other. On the top of the front wheel fairings a few different fairing covers can be employed to further aid in the overall downforce of the car. If the track is a high-speed venue, and sheer speed is of utmost importance over balance and grip on the track, then a smooth cover can be attached to the top of the fairing. If there is a greater need for balance and grip, as well as, out-right speed, then a cover made up of louvers that extend up into the airflow a little ways helps to provide the greater downforce necessary. For maximum downforce, a cover with louvers that are quite tall, and protrude into the airflow even more, creates an even greater vacuum and really sucks the car down to the track.
The design of the 908 is such that there are large openings for large volumes of air to pass around the nose and back toward the sidepods. To help control the volume of air passing back toward the sidepods a number of shrouds were attached to either side of the nose, connecting to the wheel fairings. These shrouds help to direct some of the volume of airflow to exit out of the top of the car and over the sidepods. What these shrouds do is they help prevent the large volume of air from becoming too congested, causing drag as it flows toward and into the radiators. To further help release airflow out around the side of the car, the designers for Peugeot created the front wheel fairings to extend back, just past the front edge of the radiator sidepods. This extension of the fairings helps to direct the airflow, that doesn't enter the sidepods, to exit out the side of the car instead of them getting bottled up around the radiator inlet. The fairing extensions help to control not only the air flowing out around the car, but also, how it would engage with the on-coming airflow already passing around the car itself. By staying tight to the sidepod, the airflow is directed to leave and meet the on-coming air in ways that would limit disturbance and instability.
As mentioned earlier, one of the biggest design features on the 908 HDi is the coupe design. Peugeot felt there were many more advantages than disadvantages in employing a closed cockpit into the 908. For one thing, utilizing the carbon monocoque into the closed cockpit construction actually increased strength and integrity while not having to deal with numerous roll-bars and other framing. Of course, it is believed the closed cockpit offers less drag, and therefore, greater straight-line speed than an open cockpit car, even though the angle of the windshield to the nose is quite large. One of the other advantages many believe to have convinced Peugeot to use a coupe design is that the ACO mandated air conditioners to be used to maintain cockpit temperatures on closed cockpit cars. To not penalize teams for having to use air conditioning systems, the ACO allowed teams to run a larger diameter intake for the turbocharger, meaning more power at little expense.
On the Peugeot 908 some of the disadvantages of running with a closed cockpit are obvious. Needing to have windscreens and wipers are all areas of potential weakness and problems. One of the other design issues and disadvantages of closed cockpits is in the area of driver ingress and egress. This is particularly demanding on the 908. The tall sidepods led to the engineers having to design a two-door system that can either be used in conjunction with one another or separately. The small window on either side of the car opens up and forward. However, the ACO set minimum parameters for doors of closed cockpit designs. Peugeot's 908 didn't comply with just the window being able to open. So, Peugeot's engineers developed a two-door design which incorporates a hatch-like door in the sidepod to help with ingress and egress. While this design places Peugeot at a disadvantage against its open cockpit adversaries, like Audi, it would seem Peugeot is getting the jump. The ACO has hinted that in the future there may be no open cockpit cars in the series. This would give the advantage back to Peugeot in that, should that day come, they wouldn't need to adjust anything. They would also already be very well experienced.
If there are concerns about ingress and egress in the 908, the interior provides little to no relief. The cockpit is tight. It is a matter of interpretation, one could argue, as to how Peugeot meets the regulations for a two-seater cockpit. The driver's helmet is right up against the right-side window. The dash, for many of the drivers, is uncomfortably close to the top of the driver's knees. And, because of driver positioning, there is very little, to no, visibility out the side of the car.
As the line of the sidepods trails aft, the most prominent feature protruding from the front of the rear wheel fairings are the rather large air collector inlets. The size of these air collector inlets are the result of the ACO's allowance for larger air collectors due to teams needing to use air conditioners with closed cockpit cars.
Below the air collectors, and on the side of the car, are where the Peugeot engineers placed the exhausts for the V12 diesel. This is an interesting arrangement in that most designs use the bodywork at the rear of the car to cover up the exhaust pipes, and the exhaust just exits out the back of the car. To save weight and complexity, and because rear bodywork sits so low back near the rear wing, having the exhaust exit out the side of the car made the most sense.
Every advantage in car design is taken into account when it comes to auto racing. Being able to focus even on areas that are seemingly non-viable, or unimportant, can make a huge difference. Downforce and, as an extension, stability are of utmost importance to a great car. It used to be that rear wheel fairings were only a focal point until getting past the vertical centerline of the wheel. Not any more. Today, engineers look for every advantage possible, especially those not requiring grand systems or arrangements. The rear wheel fairings on the Peugeot 908 try to take advantage of every pit of the airflow before it is no longer an influence on the car. Therefore, the Peugeot engineers designed a ski-jump style rear fairing. In itself, a small amount of downforce is created. However, with the addition of a small 'gurney' flap, which is just a small piece of metal or composite material sticking up vertically in the airflow, multiplies the effect of the airflow in that region, supplying an even greater amount of downforce at the rear of the car.
In addition to the small 'gurney' flaps that could be attached at the rear of the rear wheel fairings, Peugeot has made provision for the same removable panels that are used on the front wheel fairings to be attached at the rear of the car. Once again, if the desire is sheer speed, the Peugeot team would just attach smooth panels over the rear wheels. Without disruptions to the airflow over the wheels there is a whole lot less drag created, and therefore, it is possible for the car to go quicker. Should the need exist, louvered panels can be attached to the top of the rear wheel fairings in order to create a vacuum at the rear of the car, and thus, increase downforce.
The rear wing on the 908 is a rather straight-forward and conventional twin-deck design that utilizes a twin-pillar support system that attaches to the underside of the middle of the wing. One important component at the back of the car, but hidden under the bodywork, is the gearbox. Ricardo designed a 6-speed gearbox for the 908. This is one speed higher than what Audi uses in its R10 diesel. The gearbox is actuated by steering wheel mounted paddles.
The majority of the 908 has been designed and built in-house. The only components of the car to be outsourced to other companies have been the internal components. But even then, the majority has been done by Peugeot. This can help the team to overcome integration problems that can exist when work is outsourced. However, this is a whole new project, and a lot of new technology, especially in their diesel engine. It is uncertain how the team will do right out of the box. One advantage the team has is the fact they will be racing in the Le Mans series without the presence of Audi. Audi will be competing in the American Le Mans series. But when the two do meet, one can be sure Audi will sit up and take notice of its French resistance.
One thing is for sure. It is clear that Peugeot is tired of Germany rolling into France leaving other teams in its wake at Le Mans. It is clear that Peugeot intends to take the fight back to the German squad and eradicate their rule from their turf. The 908 HDi has the speed, and if Peugeot can get Audi-like reliability out of its car, the home country will reign in its homeland for years to come.
Sources: Wikipedia contributors, 'Peugeot 908 HDi FAP', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 8 November 2010, 09:44 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Peugeot_908_HDi_FAP&oldid=395516707 accessed 10 November 2010
'Peugeot 908 HDi FAP', (http://www.conceptcarz.com/vehicle/default.aspx?carID=13589&i=2#menu), Conceptcarz: from Concept to Production. http://www.conceptcarz.com/vehicle/default.aspx?carID=13589&i=2#menu. Retrieved 10 November 2010.
'Peugeot 908 HDi FAP', (http://www.ultimatecarpage.com/car/3064/Peugeot-908-HDi-FAP.html), Ultimatecarpage.com. http://www.ultimatecarpage.com/car/3064/Peugeot-908-HDi-FAP.html. Retrieved 10 November 2010.By Jeremy McMullen
At 10.35am today, Wednesday June 10, 2009, and in compliance wîth Article 29.2 of the specific regulations of the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours, Team Peugeot Total lodged a protest wîth the Race Director and the President of the Sporting Stewards of the Le Mans 24 Hours concerning the entrant Audi and the non-compliance of the three Audi prototypes wîth the ACO's 2009 technical regulations.
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 wîth 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. 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. Certain aspects of the car's non-compliance were pointed out to the ACO last March at the 12 Hours of Sebring, a round of the ALMS. '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,' explains Olivier Quesnel. 'I insist on the fact that our approach is constructive and not aggressive. It seeks to clarify what is an unclear situation wîth a view to obtaining clear, precise regulations in order to prepare for the future. All competitors need stable, firm regulations that apply to everyone, wîth a strong regulatory body capable of taking decisions. We intend to take this matter to its conclusion, not wîth 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 wîth motor sport's supreme governing body, the FIA'. 'Now that this procedure is underway,' concludes Olivier Quesnel, 'all our energy is now focused entirely on our priority objective for 2009, which is to try to win the Le Mans 24 Hours. May the racing begin.'Source - Peugeot
Valencia 1,000 km (May 4-6, 2007)
A SECOND WIN FOR THE 908 HDi FAP, THIS TIME IN THE HANDS OF PEDRO LAMY AND STEPHANE SARRAZIN Following its win at Monza three weeks ago, the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP showed the same winning form in Valencia. It was, however, this time the turn of Pedro Lamy and Stephane Sarrazin to finish in first place after leading practically from the start without the slightest problem.
In a repeat performance of their success at Monza, both Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs qualified on the front row of the grid. It was Marc Gene wîth his local knowledge at the wheel of the No 7 908 HDi FAP that took pole position by just 0.441s from the No 8 car driven by Pedro Lamy.
On race day the No 7 car driven by Nicolas Minassian started from pole position, but was quickly passed by the No 8 car driven by Stephane Sarrazin. With no fewer than 45 cars on the track, the two 908 HDi FAPs started to catch the backmarkers as early as Lap 4 and, after that, spent their time weaving through the traffic round the twisty 4 km Valencia circuit.
Even having to deal wîth the traffic the gap between the two cars never exceeded 20 seconds until the safety car was sent out on lap 121 following a tangle between two cars. The two cars took the opportunity under the safety car to refuel and Pedro Lamy chose to stay on the same tyres, while Marc Gene preferred to fit fresh rubber. This made it possible for the Spaniard to home in on his team-mate, prompting a spectacular battle between the Peugeot pair. Gene finally succeeded in passing, but he did so under yellow flags and later received a stop-and-go penalty.
By lap 160, Marc Gene was beginning to complain about a problem wîth the clutch which was slipping more and more. When Nicolas Minassian took over the car at the next stop, the Frenchman only did a few more laps before the clutch failed for good, and the car was retired. This left the second 908 HDi FAP wîth a lead of almost three laps over the next car and was able to cruise home to a secure victory as the flag came down after six hours of racing (the maximum duration for an LMS round) before completion of the 250 scheduled laps.Source - Peugeot
March's 12 Hours of Sebring and this weekend's 1000km de Spa rounded off Team Peugeot Total's competitive preparations for the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours which takes place in a month's time. The main aim of the Peugeot squad in the Belgian Ardennes was to carry out work ahead of the French endurance race, but it ended up pocketing victory, too.
Both of the two Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs entered for the Belgian race succeeded in reaching the chequered flag to gather further valuable information for the team. After monopolising the front row of the starting grid, the two cars soon opened up a healthy lead, wîth Frenchman Nicolas Minassian in the N°7 car lapping ahead of Catalan Marc Gené (N°9). The two machines were actually running to different tyre strategies (medium rubber for the former, soft for the latter) and, just prior to the first round of driver changes, they were split by almost 50 seconds. As Simon Pagenaud (N°7) and David Brabham (N°9) took over from their respective team-mates, but the Australian made a mistake on Lap 53 when he pulled over too soon after passing the N°28 Courage. He was forced to pit to change the right-hand lower wishbone which caused Brabham to drop all of 13 minutes. In addition to falling down the order, the 908 HDi FAP then lost further ground at around the 100-lap mark when the car was called in for a four-minute stop-and-go penalty because of Brabham's manoeuvre. Alexander Wurz, who was then at the wheel, came in for the forced stop before rejoining and tucking in behind the leading car which was in the hands of fellow Austrian Christian Klien.
The N°7 car was first past the flag to secure a win which Team Peugeot Total had been waiting for since the squad's success at the Nürburgring on August 17, 2008, which was the 908's most recent victory until today.Source - Peugeot
Jacques Villeneuve had made his first appearance at Le Mans in 2007. Unfortunately, there was just no competing with the Audis. However, as he returned to the famous French classic the Canadian appeared...