A CENTURY OF RECORDS AND VICTORIES TOLD AT THE 24 HOURS OF LE MANS MUSEUM
Did you know that since 1926, PEUGEOT has been present in several forms at the 24 Hours of Le Mans: as a manufacturer, but also as an engine manufacturer equipping the famous WM P88, the fastest car in the history of the 24 Hours? Or that 2022 will mark the 30th anniversary of PEUGEOT's first victory at Le Mans with the legendary PEUGEOT 905, driven by Mark Blundell, Yannick Dalmas and Derek Warwick? Before PEUGEOT's long-awaited return to Le Mans in 2023, the 24 Hours Museum is presenting the "ALLURE LE MANS" exhibition until 20 September. You will be able to admire the astonishing PEUGEOT 9X8 hypercar, which will make its first laps of the circuit on July 10 in Monza, Italy.
On this occasion, The Magazine retraces the fabulous history of PEUGEOT in endurance racing.
Before Le Mans: the PEUGEOT L76,
the world's first truly modern racing car
At the beginning of the 20th century, PEUGEOT engineers designed a racing car that would revolutionise motor sport. Named the L76, this car with a classic but very light chassis was distinguished by the innovative distribution system of its 4-cylinder engine. Fast and powerful, it won numerous prizes, including the Indianapolis 500, at an average speed of 122 km/h in 1913. This race will make it a legend, as will its driver, Jules Goux. The technology of the L76 (for 7.6 litres) was to be developed into other models, the L57, L3, L45, etc., which continued to win legendary races and break speed records in France and throughout the world. The fame and success of PEUGEOT in endurance racing had just begun.
PEUGEOT enters the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time
However, pure speed quickly took precedence over endurance, and it was not until 1923 that interest in endurance racing was revived. On the PEUGEOT side, this took shape with the Marque's first entry in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1926, during the 4th edition. The driver André Boillot competed at the wheel of a 174 S.
Then, in the 1930s, PEUGEOT, which sought to associate sport with production vehicles to promote the brand's models, developed its first sports versions. Some of them took part in the races and rallies of the time. André Boillot achieved the record of running for 24 hours at an average speed of 110.417 km/hour and thus covering 2650 km!
PEUGEOT was present at Le Mans in 1937 as an engine manufacturer, supplying the chassis and roadster engines to Émile Darl'Mat, then a PEUGEOT dealer in Paris, who wanted to prove the reliability and robustness of PEUGEOT's engines. The drivers put in a remarkable performance, finishing in 7th, 8th and 10th place.
It was also in the 1930s that manufacturers became aware of the importance of design in terms of performance and consumption. This was the birth of aerodynamics, to which the engineer Charles Deutsch made a major contribution by applying his theories to racing cars. The elements he designed in the 1960s can still be seen on today's models.
These decisive contributions enabled the WM P88, equipped with a PEUGEOT engine and driven by Roger Dorchy, to exceed 400 km/h in 1988 on the Hunaudières straight.
The first victory
With the development of the 905, PEUGEOT clearly asserted its objective of winning the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans event and entered the World Sports Car Championship. After conclusive tests, the PEUGEOT team obtained excellent results in 1992 (2nd at Monza, 1st and 3rd at Le Mans, 1st and 2nd at Donington, 1st and 3rd at Suzuka, 1st, 2nd and 5th at Magny-Cours). The brand thus won the 1992 Constructors' World Championship title.
In 1993, the World Sports Car Championship having disappeared, the only race in the top-level sports programme remained the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Three 905s entered the competition and won the first three places. It was a great success for the brand and its teams.
The return of the Lion
In 2005, PEUGEOT announced its intention to take up a new technological challenge by taking part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a car powered by an HDi diesel engine, a technology that already equipped more than 60% of the brand's vehicles sold in Europe. After several years of experimentation, the consecration came in 2009 when PEUGEOT won its first 24 Hours of Le Mans with the 908 and its diesel engine and scored a one-two finish.
It was in Zhuhaï, China, in November 2010, that the PEUGEOT 908 HDi FAP won its fifth title of the season as well as the first edition of the ILMC (Intercontinental Le Mans Cup).
the beginning of a new era
PEUGEOT announced the end of its endurance programme in January 2012, after 14 victories in the last 16 races, to focus on the development of new vehicles.
However, the history of PEUGEOT in endurance racing does not stop and continues to be written... In 2023, the lion brand will make its return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the PEUGEOT 9X8 in the Le Mans Hypercar class.
PEUGEOT AT LE MANS IN 5 FIGURES
39cars entered between 1926 and 2011
47 PEUGEOT drivers including 9 winners
12 cars on the overall podium
127 676,034 km covered by PEUGEOT cars at the 24 Hours of Le Mans
405 km/h : the official speed record on the 24 Hours of Le Mans race track set by a PEUGEOT engine in 1988