This is the car that broke Audi and indeed Germany’s stronghold on Le Mans, at least momentarily. It might have done it a couple of other times actually, but this is the one that did it in 2009.
I remember seeing the original concept and thinking how brilliant it looked. I’d also come to know of the 905 by then, so the prospect of this being a thing really watered my mouth. Especially considering 2006 was the first Le Mans I properly followed.
Behind the Peugeot 908 is a 5.5-litre V12 running on diesel, which Audi had won with the year before the 908 first came to the fore. This makes 700bhp and, since torque is also important on diesels, 885lb-ft of it. That was nearly 10% more than Audi got at the time.
As it was, within two years their car was much faster than Audi’s on track but was hit by a couple of niggling flaws – lengthier pitstops and rain meant Audi beat it in 2008. Then as Audi cocked up with their new R15, this 908 took a 1-2 in 2009.
And with Xbox sponsorship plastered over the thing, it’s got a free ticket to Forza 6. But then anything as fast as this should be in any game really.
Indeed this has the highest PI of anything not open-wheeled in the game. It is mighty fast.
And as expected, it requires someone able to tame such a mad car. Lightweight as all prototypes are, this has the aerodynamics to go insanely fast if you dare. But the big challenge is the engine in the back.
The torque makes the car thrash about to an extent even greater than that of most prototypes. Whereas before diesel engines a prototype would’ve had very little torque at all – the Peugeot 905 long before this packed just 359lb-ft – the diesel gives masses more torque which makes itself felt very often. The car writhes about under initial acceleration, or indeed any acceleration at all, and requires a great deal of throttle control to keep it in line.
Furthermore, such is the power after wheelspin becomes an issue that you really need to have an eye out for the perfect braking point. It’s hard to find this in the 908. Too early and you’ll be going too slowly to corner properly. Too late and you’re in the wall.
But if you can hook it all up properly, the 908 will be immensely fast, and there will be little to stop its inevitable charge to the top. And with that very low-revving engine grumbling in the back, bouncing off the limiter like mad, the turboes whistling away and the sound from the outside letting you know what it can do, you know you’re driving a real racing car.
The 908 perfectly encaptures just how hard one of these things is to drive, and how hard one of these things can go. If you’re looking for the very best, and are one of the very best, it’ll do…rather nicely, I suppose. It’s only the fastest prototype around, apparently.
In fact it might’ve been even faster. Looking at the 2010 effort, it was so fast it burnt Audi to cinders everywhere…except Le Mans, where it mostly burnt itself to cinders, sadly. That was the fastest LMP car ever until this year’s efforts came about. But in 2010, it was sponsored by Playstation and so it’s not here but in Gran Turismo instead. Switching loyalties…remind you of anyone?