FROM THE ARCHIVES: TG’S RIDE IN THE LE MANS-WINNING PEUGEOT 908

A throwback to 2010, when we rode shotgun with Nicolas Minassian in the diesel 908

” Can you feel it with your arse? Can you feel it via your arse?”

So this is how I will die. Entraped in a small carbon-fibre casket with a maniacal Frenchman demanding to know the sensitivity of my bottom. A maniacal Frenchman with a cockney twang and also 700bhp under his ideal foot. A maniacal Frenchman that appears identified to wreck both of us, as well as a near-priceless, championship-winning race vehicle, right into a swelling of unrelenting Armco.

And also, to address the question, yes. I can feel it via my arse. On this ice-cold morning in north France, we are spearing via Raccordement, the rapid right-hander prior to the main start-finish straight at Le Mans, at a rate that seems physically difficult. The maniacal Frenchman is pushing his tires to their restrictions, flicking the wheel left and right, feathering the vehicle on the outright edge of hold.

His words, talked not 10 mins ago, float ominously. “You don’t get much caution when it’s mosting likely to go,” he stated. “The weight is back as well as you go to the front. It slides a little bit and then ‘wham!’, you remain in the wall surface.”

Ah.

The maniacal Frenchman with the cockney twang is Nicolas Minassian, Peugeot’s works Le Mans chauffeur. (he’s resided in Goodwood for the last decade, which describes the unmistakeably British tint to his accent.) That 700bhp– as well as, probably more considerably, almost 1,000 pound feet of torque– is presently hoofing out from the 5.5-litre V12 diesel in the Peugeot 908, the racer that won Le Mans in 2014. It’s the fastest endurance racer in background, the automobile which damaged a years of Audi syndicate as well as sparked Gallic fun on a range last seen after the storming of the Bastille.

Nic wasn’t part of the winning # 9 group in 2015– after a few mechanical problems, his # 7 Peugeot finished sixth total, but Minassian established the fastest lap of the race at an ordinary speed of 149mph, two secs quicker than the very best lap of the winning automobile. He’s quick, simply put. Our ideal flying lap, Peugeot’s technical director Christophe Besse tells me later on, is within a secondly of Nic’s quickest solo time, in spite of the large lump of Leading Equipment in the guest seat.

Back in the coffin. We carve onto the start-finish straight, as well as the method the 908 gathers pace is sensational. The shifts are short as well as harsh, hardly a second in each equipment of solid, stunning acceleration, however, then again. There is sound now, but not from those churning pistons or the exhaust: rather, it’s a sucking, thumping, air-bullying sound, all turbo whoosh and also wind buffetting. We whip previous vacant grandstands as we climb up towards 200mph, as well as I attempt to visualize all this at 4am, 3 hours right into a gruelling evening stint, rain dropping, lights strobing through the cabin, cutting through swathes of slower autos.

I can not imagine it.

It’s easy to see endurance racing– particularly diesel-powered endurance auto racing, with its absence of cranium-splitting exhaust sound– as a contest that compensates dependability over on-the-ragged-edge racing. Incorrect. The 908 is a beast.

” It feels a great deal like an F1 cars and truck,” states Nic, who’s previously evaluated with Honda as well as Williams. “A little bit lazier to transform instructions, yet that’s all. In some ways, it’s harder, due to the fact that all the power is from 2,500-4,200 rpm. All the torque gets to once, so it’s more difficult to regulate the throttle. In the wet, we tend to long-shift due to the fact that there’s less power on top of the rev band. You drive with your arse.”