2008 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP car will contest the 12 Hour race
As stated by Peugeot Sport Director Michel Barge at the launch of the 2008 team, Team Peugeot Total’s main objective this year is to win the Le Mans 24 Hour race in June.
To support this objective, the team has been involved in an intensive test programme since the last race of 2007, the 1000 Milhas at Interlagos Brazil. The aim of the programme has been to continue to develop the car and enhance further its reliability. But nothing can, however, replace actual competition and this is why a Peugeot 908 HDi FAP car has been entered for the 12-Hour race at Sebring.
The race will also be the first time that Peugeot Sport will come head-to-head with its main rival in this year’s Le Mans Series and Le Mans itself, Audi. Audi has a formidable record at Sebring having won the race for the last seven years.
Sebring was also the venue for the historic win two years ago by the Audi R10 TDi on its race debut, when it took the first victory for a diesel powered sportscar in a major race series.
To prepare for the 12-Hour race at Sebring, Team Peugeot Total made the trip out to Florida in January to take part in the three-day Winter Test staged by the American Le Mans Series organisers. Portugal’s Pedro Lamy and Frenchmen Nicolas Minassian and Stéphane Sarrazin drove the 908 HDi FAP during the three day test.
To the surprise of many, the car immediately proved a match for the former airfield’s infamous uneven concrete slabs. The 908 HDi FAP ended the first day just one-tenth of a second off the top of the timesheets. By the end of the test the 908 HDi FAP driven by Stéphane Sarrazin had set a new lap record of 1m 42.801s, beating the Audi R10 TDi’s 2007 pole winning time of 1m 44.974s.
“This track is very different from modern European tracks,” commented Stéphane Sarrazin. “It’s pretty bumpy in places but the car seemed to be well suited to the track from its very first runs and we were pleasantly surprised by our performance which says a great deal for the 908 HDi FAP’s excellent chassis.”
“We didn’t go all out for a time. We just worked our way through the programme we had set for the three days,” says Peugeot Sport Technical Director Bruno Famin. “We also tried the full range of Michelin tyres we will have in 2008 and we were very pleased with them in terms of both their performance and durability.”
In the course of the three days, Peugeot Sport’s trio of drivers covered 235 laps of the 5.95 km circuit, making a total of almost 1,400 km.
Thirty five cars will start the race, ranging from LMP1s to GT2s; the 56th 12-Hours of Sebring promises to be something of an obstacle race for the quickest cars and numerous appearances of the safety car are likely which it will be necessary to manage as efficiently as possible.
One 908 HDi FAP will contest the race on behalf of Peugeot Sport (No7) and it will be sporting its new blue livery. The race begins at 15.05 central European time on Saturday March 15.
After the race Peugeot Sport will stay on at Sebring for further testing.