Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How the Peugeot 908 RC Concept Car Works

        Auto | Concept Cars

Peugeot 908 HDi FAP Race Car
Peugeot 908 HDi FAP
­Getty Images
The Peugeot 908 HDi FAP at the Le Mans 24 Hour race in France. Admit it. You want to be behind the wheel.

Many of the world's automakers use racing as a way to develop technologies that often find their way into production cars. For instance, Chevrolet races the factory C6.R Corvettes in the American Le Mans Series, along with Audi and its R10 TDI (successor to the legendary R8 TDI). In both cases, the manufacturers leveraged the success of their racing programs by offering gear heads with deep enough pockets the opportunity to buy the street version (C6 Corvette ZR-1 and Audi R8) of their beloved race cars. The practice has been going on for years.

Automakers often have an in-house sport tuning division filled with engineers who painstakingly research and develop their race cars like AMG at Mercedes-Benz or Motorsports at BMW. Peugeot Sport takes care of that for the French automaker. When deciding to build the 908 RC, Peugeot looked no farther than the in-house technologies developed for the 908 HDi FAP race car, which currently competes in the American Le Mans Series.

On June 14, 2005, Peug­eot announced its intentions to return to sports car racing’s highest level, the Le Mans 24 Hours. From 2000 to 2006, Audi won five out of six races at Le Mans. After an absence of more than a decade, Peugeot hoped the 908 would be the answer to Audi’s stranglehold on sports car racing. A Le Mans Prototype (LMP1) entry, the 908 debuted in Monza, Italy, in 2007 where it collected the victory in the 1,000-kilometer (621-mile) Le Mans Series race and backed up its success with another win its next time out at Valencia, Spain.

During testing, the 908 set a new record at Le Mans (Circuit de la Sarthe), with a time of 3 minutes and 26.707 seconds, besting the previous mark of 3 minutes and 29.905 seconds by the Audi R8 in 2002. In its first attempt at Le Mans, the 908 fared well, posting a runner-up finish. In 2008, the 908s out qualified the Audis and set a blistering track record, with a lap of 3 minutes and 18.513 seconds, beating their own previous mark by an unheard of 7.8 seconds. After leading for much of the race, one of the R10s snatched the lead away after rain hit the track, relegating both Team Peugeot 908s to a second- and third-place finish, respectively.

Tale of the Tape: Audi R10 TDI vs. Peugeot 908 HDi FAP


Audi R10 TDI

2007 Peugeot 908
HDi FAP

Engine

5.5L (335 cubic inches) Diesel

5.5L (336 cubic inches) Diesel

Horsepower

650 BHP (478 KW)

700 BHP (515 KW)

Torque

811 Ft-Lbs (1,100 NM)

885 Ft-Lbs (1,200 NM)

Aspiration

Twin turbo

Twin turbo

Weight

2,040 lbs (925 kg)

2,040 lbs (925 kg)

Power-to-weight ratio

3.1 LB/HP

2.9 LB/HP

BHP/Liter

118.2 BHP/Liter

127.3 BHP/Liter

[source: Concept Carz]; *KW = kilowatts; NM = Newton-meter; BHP = brake horsepower

The 908 HDi FAP uses a diesel-powered 100-degree V-12 engine that produces 700 horsepower. You might think of a diesel engine and picture a bus spewing black smoke out its exhaust pipe in downtown traffic. With the HDi DPFS engine, that's not the case. The 908's engine has two diesel particulate filters, one on each exhaust system, so the e­ngine burns smoke free.

Homologation: From Racetrack to Showroom
Some racing series mandate that manufacturers must produce a specific number of vehicles to be offered for sale to the public. The process, called homologation, has produced some of the finest road cars in history. The BMW E30 M3, arguably the most successful sports car ever, is one such beast. BMW built thousands of M3s from 1986 to 1991 with the same specifications and body design as the race cars. As a result, BMW Motorsports has grown to be one of the most renowned in-house racing divisions of any automaker and has translated its success into some of the best road cars currently on the market.

More impressive is the power. A popular misconception with diesel engines is they produce lots of torque but not as much horsepower. To an extent, that's true, as you can see in the table above. But the relatively small bore and long stroke of the HDi DPFS engine, as well as the flatter stroke angle, produces plenty of high-revving horsepower, and the six-speed sequential gearbox matches the power band just right, to the tune of speeds in excess of 230 mph (360 kph).

Now that you've learned that the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP is one fast car, flip to the next section to see how that racing technology fits into the 908 RC concept car.