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Sunday, May 1, 2016

A Legendary Peugeot Le Mans Race Car is for Sale


Back in 2008, Audi stormed to yet another 24 Hours of Le Mans win, accumulating its eighth win in just nine years, and since then the German outfit has claimed five more. Fittingly, the film Truth in 24 was even produced to document the team and its historic reign of terror at Le Mans. 

This however isn’t that storied 2008 car—the Audi R10 TDI—it’s not even an Audi. This is the car that came in second place, behind by four minutes—a Peugeot 908 HDi FAP Le Mans prototype, chassis number five. And in the exclusive world of racing where many historic cars are squirreled away for the rest of eternity, this one won’t be.

It will surface on May 14th in the principality of Monaco and go up for auction with RM Sotheby’s, expected to fetch between $1.4 and $1.8 million for its history and provenance, of which there’s much.

First teased in concept form in 2006, the 908 cars proved to be winners off the bat, taking a debut win in 2007 at Monza and wrapping up the European Le Mans Series championship later that year. At their core was an innovative 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged diesel V12 which chucked out over 700 horsepower and a massive 850 plus lb.-ft. of torque. An exhaust particulate filter made these cars much cleaner to race, a rather noteworthy item amongst today’s diesel headlines.
Chassis number five (one of two built for 2008) was constructed by Team Peugeot Total in late 2007 and also proved to be quick straight out of the gates. With Nicolas Minassian, Marc Gene, and Jacques Villeneuve (1997 F1 champion) at the wheel, this Peugeot 908 prototype finished second at Le Mans and earned another second place finish later that year at the Nürburgring 1000km.
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Greater success followed in 2009 when chassis number five won the Petit Le Mans and Algarve 1000km, followed by another second place finish at the Silverstone 1000km in 2010. All told this car took three 2nd place finishes, three pole positions, and four fastest laps in addition to its pair of wins.
Following the 2010 season, chassis number five was retired as Team Peugeot Total moved to a newer 908 prototype design, featuring a smaller diesel V8. It has once before been offered up at auction, but come May it’ll find new ownership once again. Imagine turning up to a track day in this beast.

Photo Credit: RM Auctions