Turning the insanely powerful Peugeot 908 HDi FAP into a race-winning machine took plenty of time when it embarked upon its debut season of LMP1 competition in 2007. And the simple act of turning the car in high-speed corners also proved to be among among the craziest challenges its drivers faced in those formative years where the giant twin-turbodiesel V12 machine took the fight to Audi at Le Mans and other classic European circuits.
Sailing past 200mph with ease, the big prototype took cornering to new extremes, thanks to the ridiculous power and unending acceleration. In an excerpt from the Peugeot 908 LMP1 Memories podcast with Sebastien Bourdais, Anthony Davidson, and Pedro Lamy, the frightening experiences inside the cockpit were discussed:
Lamy: “Wow. That was a animal. It was very brutal.”
Bourdais: “Yeah, to the point that they blew every gearbox there was, they blew every bevel gear there was. Even pretty late in the program, there were safety (protocols) on the torque delivery… It was completely backwards to everything else we knew. I mean, you were going in uncharted territories where you were getting more power as you were upshifting. You were getting a kick every time you upshift and they had to reduce the torque to try not break traction, to try not (to) blow up gearboxes, components, transmissions, everything.
“It took a couple of years. The power steering was probably the last thing that got figured out, once we went to the hydraulic power steering because the electric was just binding up. For two years, you could not counter-steer in the 908. That was pretty awesome. There were some very lonely moments at the wheel of the car, when the steering would go dead solid, at whatever angle of counter-steer you were at. And that was that.”
Lamy: “(At) Spa, it’s normal to have that problem in any car, (like the) Radillion (corner). But with Peugeot, we had a huge problem because the car had all the grip to do it flat, easy. But sometimes the power steering was locking and the car was going where it wanted, because there no power to control the car. Was incredible.”
Bourdais: “There was a lot of castor and it was obviously a lot of downforce on the car, and it was completely saturating the whole power steering system. It just made the car very difficult to set up because you had to keep the things somewhat on the understeering side, because when you cannot counter-steer and the car gets free on you, then it becomes a big issue. So, yeah, it was interesting…”
Catch the full conversation below: