2007 Peugeot 908 V12 HDI at Le Mans


(from Peugeot Press Release)  An extremely positive debut for the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP at Le Mans

Fourteen years after its memorable one-two-three finish in the great French race in 1993, Peugeots return to the Le Mans 24 Hours could hardly have got off to a more successful start. The new Peugeot 908 HDi FAP shared by Frenchmen Stphane Sarrazin, Sbastien Bourdais and their Portuguese team-mate Pedro Lamy took the chequered flag at the end of the 24-hour race in 2nd place. In spite of the untimely retirement of the N7 car of Nicolas Minassian, Marc Gene and Jacques Villeneuve with just 100 minutes remaining after figuring in 2nd place at one stage, the weekend proved particularly promising for Team Peugeot Total whose objective in contesting the world famous
endurance classic was to gain valuable experience for its return in 2008.

Despite the changeable, occasionally appalling weather, Team Peugeot Total had every reason to be pleased with the way the 2007 Le Mans 24 Hours unfolded. It was barely a year ago at a special press conference here at the French circuit that it had unveiled a mock-up of the V12 diesel engine it had earmarked for the forthcoming Peugeot 908 HDi FAP. Twelve months later, the real thing powered the Le Mans prototype to pole position for the celebrated race after previously posting the fastest
time in the official pre-event practice day and also securing Le Mans Series successes at Monza and Valence.

Prior to Le Mans, the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP had covered no more than 3,500km in race simulations, yet this weekend saw it go much, much farther. The N7 car had amply exceeded that threshold when it was sidelined with the finish in sight and the N8 sister car ultimately took the flag in 2nd position, a dream result that has permitted Team Peugeot Total to collect a great deal of valuable data and experience that will obviously prove useful in its build-up to the 2008 race.

France's Stphane Sarrazin qualified the N8 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP on the coveted pole position for Saturday afternoon's start in a thrilling showdown with the team's rivals Audi during race-week's opening practice session, while Nicolas Minassian put the N7 car third on the grid.

The two French cars consequently powered away from the first two rows at the stroke of 3pm yesterday (Saturday) in front of more than 200,000 spectators. Unfortunately, shortly after the race's five-hour mark, the N8 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP was forced to pit to have its rear wheel-bearings replaced. The incident saw the car of Sarrazin/Lamy/Bourdais drop back to 13th overall, but they battled unrelentingly throughout the ensuing night to secure a footing on the provisional podium at daybreak alongside their team-mates Minassian/Gene/Villeneuve (Peugeot N7) who had inherited 2nd spot when the race leader crashed out on Sunday morning.

Unfortunately, with exactly 100 minutes remaining, the oil pressure of the N7 cars engine fell alarmingly, prompting the crew's instant retirement. The powerplant of the other car also showed signs of weakness in the dying laps but Sbastien Bourdais succeeded in holding on to cross the finish line of the 2007 Le Mans 24 Hours in 2nd place!

Frdric SAINT-GEOURS (Executive Vice President, Automobiles Peugeot): "Todays result is excellent and very promising for the future. All the resources we have invested in this Endurance programme both financially and in human terms are based on a long term presence."

Michel BARGE (Director, Peugeot Sport): "I have to admit that the end was pretty nerve-racking, especially when we lost a car with about an hour and a half remaining. We saw some big falls in oil pressure and weve now got to work on reliability to try and obtain the same degree of performance during races that we have in testing. Our intention in 2007 has always been to bed ourselves in progressively to prepare for next year. I would like to congratulate everyone in the team and also all the
drivers who complemented each other so well and whose experience has been so valuable for this project."

Stphane SARRAZIN (N8 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP, 2nd): "Its been simply extraordinary. The mechanics did a fantastic job when we had to find a cure for our mechanical problem early on. We didnt have sufficient experience to challenge for victory but the weekends result is nonetheless very positive."

Sbastien BOURDAIS (N8 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP, 2nd): "The greatest moment of the weekend? The finish, naturally! It was an awesome way to end a crazy race. We had a big engine problem and we just didnt know whether it would hold for another lap. The team did a tremendous job to get us on the podium of the worlds most challenging race, not even six months after the cars track debut!"

Pedro LAMY (N8 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP, 2nd): "The Peugeot 908 HDi FAP programme started very late. As recently as a year ago, there was nothing, so todays result is that much more extraordinary. My team-mates all did a fantastic job, too."

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