Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Peugeot Releases First Details on New 908 Le Mans Racer with V8 Turbo Diesel

At a special event held in Paris, French automaker Peugeot released the first details on its new 908 endurance racecar, with which it will participate at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC). Codenamed 90X, the competition model features an all-new 550HP 3.7-liter V8 diesel engine that replaces the 2010 908 HDi FAP's 5.5-liter V12 oil-burner and complies with the new regulations introduced for 2011, including the demand for a “shark fin engine cover”.

The 908 moniker was retained to emphasize Peugeot’s past successes in endurance racing, but also to create a link to the brand’s road cars.

“We have chosen 908 as the name of the new car in order to build on the wave of success with which it is associated,” said Peugeot’s Director of Marketing and Communications, Xavier Peugeot. “At the same time, the new car fits perfectly with the brands new modern image. It mirrors the modernity that is clearly visible in the new 508 and the recently announced new 308. At Peugeot, we have always sought to associate our commitment to motor sport with the real world and with our model range. The name 908 consequently stood out as the obvious choice.”

The development of the race car started in 2009, immediately after Peugeot’s one-two finish at Le Mans. Engineers used the experience accumulated with the 908 HDi FAP, but, ultimately, the 908 is new from ground up.

“The regulations have evolved a great deal but we didn’t start with a clean sheet of paper,” Bruno Famin, Peugeot Sport’s Technical Director, said. “The experience we have gained over the past four years helped to steer the decision-making process and our technical choices, although the only component which has been carried over at the end of the day is the windscreen wiper!”

A lot is expected from the 908, as Peugeot wants to defend the ILMC title it won last year and also wants to challenge Audi’s R18 for the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans crown.

For more information, check out the brief technical overview given by Bruno Famin, available below.

By Csaba Daradics

908 Overview

A closed-cockpit car: “we knew from previous testing work that there is little significant difference between open and closed cockpit cars in terms of their aerodynamic performance. At the same time, despite the added constraints they bring when working on them at races, closed-cockpit cars provide additional safety for the drivers. We therefore decided to stay with the same solution.”

Engine: “We have also made full use of our experience with the 908 HDi FAP’s V12 diesel engine. We decided to opt for a turbocharged V8 diesel engine for the 908 but, with characteristics which are very similar to those of the V12. The angle of the “vee” is 90 degrees (compared with 100 degrees in the case of the V12) to improve the engine balance. The cubic capacity is 3.7 litres and the new V8 HDi FAP engine produces a peak power of 550 bhp. We ran the engine for the first time on the dyno on January 25, 2010.”

Four identical wheels: “Today’s LMP cars have a shortcoming with regards to ultimate grip of the front wheels. The logical way to cure this was to increase the size of the contact patch between the tires and the track, which entailed running bigger front wheels, within the limits specified by the regulations. This aspect of the car’s development was carried out in close collaboration with our partner Michelin.”

Aerodynamics: “Given the big reduction in engine power resulting from the 2011 regulations (a reduction of approximately 150 bhp), we had to take a fresh look at the trade-off between aerodynamics, drag and down force. The latter has been significantly reduced in order to maintain a reasonably high top speed.”

The new car made its track made its track debut on 27th July 2010. “This was the deadline we set ourselves, although we knew we would almost certainly run into teething trouble given that this was an all-new car. We did indeed have problems but we succeeded in resolving them one by one as we got more and more kilometres on the clock. One of the very positive points we found was that the car’s handling lived up to our expectations straight out of the box. Between the car’s track debut in 2010 and the 2011 Le Mans 24 Hours, we will have completed twelve tests in all, at a number of different circuits,” concludes Bruno Famin.

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