The diesel powered Peugeot made its debut at LeMans last year
Peugeot Sport took part in the three-day test organized by the American Le Mans Series at Sebring, Florida (Monday January 28 to Wednesday January 30), where three drivers took turns at the wheel of the 908 HDi FAP. Thanks to previous participations in the 12 Hours of Sebring, Pedro Lamy and Stéphane Sarrazin had prior knowledge of the circuit but it was a completely new venue for Nicolas Minassian.
The objective of the long session was to put the 908 HDi FAP through its paces round this notoriously difficult track and over its bumpy, concrete surface which is a telling test for the car's mechanicals and tires alike. The three days also came on top of the program of endurance tests that Peugeot Sport has planned with a view to working on the 908's reliability in preparation for June's Le Mans 24 Hours. In the course of the Sebring test's eight separate sessions, the 908 HDi FAP covered 233 laps – equivalent to 1,386km – without encountering the slightest problem, with the exception of an oil leak on the first day.
The run gave the engineers and drivers a chance to work on all fronts and adapt the 908 to the American circuit. It was the second day that saw Stéphane Sarrazin post the team's fastest lap (1m 42.801s) to improve the existing record round the 5.95km (3.7 miles) track which has stood since the Audi R10 claimed a 1m 44.974s during qualifying for last year's race: "This circuit is very different to what we are accustomed to in Europe. However, we arrived here with a sound base and we were pleasantly surprised by the fact that we were so quick from the outset, which proves that the 908 HDi FAP is a very good car."
Despite this fast lap, the team continued to work right up to the end of the three days in a bid to profit from the full potential of the 908. "We succeeded in working all the way through our program," reported Peugeot Sport's Technical Director Bruno Famin after the Florida tests. "That was particularly satisfying because we are beginning to arrive in unknown territory. We worked systematically on set-up without really seeking to maximize performance. The three days also gave us a chance to evaluate Michelin's 2008 tires which worked very well, in terms of both performance and endurance."
On its return to Paris, Peugeot Sport will decide whether or not it will take part in this year's 12 Hours of Sebring which takes place on March 15. The team's 2008 program and driver line-up will be revealed at a press conference in the French capital on February 15.
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