French Friday: Le Mans Transatlantique

A slow day today, and an apology is in order for that. You see, there is a monster Transatlantic collaboration post in the works for a French street and racing car which was supposed to go up today, and the American contingent (two of us) aren’t done yet. My bad, a lot going on here lately!

So, to hold you over, here’s another car I received from the Continent, ORECA’s Peugeot 908 as run at Le Mans in 2010, driven by Olivier Panis, Loic Duval, and Nicolas Lapierre. You may recall the ORECA 01-AIM I featured before, from the same race. This is the 908 I mentioned in that piece, which was at one point the last one standing after all the works cars were felled by engine failure or chassis damage.

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Once the factory cars were down, Peugeot Sport pledged all their resources to this one as the last, best hope against the Audi onslaught. It soldiered on until just over an hour from the end, eventually suffering the same engine failure as the #1 and #2 factory cars. This disappointment is why I was especially heartbroken for Hugh de Chaunac and ORECA after Toyota’s crushing loss this year.

Peugeot’s postmortem determined that the failures were due to abnormally high engine stress, which caused connecting rod failures in the 5.5L turbodiesel V12. The high stress was put down to unusually good weather and thus high speeds sustained for the entire event. In fact, 2010 saw the distance record from 1971 broken by all three of the Audis, with the winner logging 5,410.713 km, or 3,362 Freedom Units. Not an excuse, really, because the Audis had no such problem with their V10 TDIs, but I wonder if Peugeot may have been running harder than necessary. They dominated qualifying, with the slowest 908, this one, nearly 2.4 seconds ahead of the fastest Audi. After winning 2009, perhaps pressure to win again got the best of them.

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As is becoming a theme, I owe a Dutchman for this. I love all the variations of this livery that ORECA has used over the years, so when Jobjoris found this one for me over in Europeland, I had to add it to the pile. Glad to have it! The model is by Altaya, and as with apparently all the Altaya/IXO 908s, it doesn’t roll. I think this one is actually a bit better than my ‘09 Le Mans winner though.

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Have a great weekend!

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