The Peugeot 908 HDi FAP claims the silver medal on its Le Mans debut
The final part of the race had a great deal in common with the early hours of the 2007 Le Mans 24 Hours since both proved extremely hectic for Team Peugeot Total. With the two Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs running 2nd and 3rd with three hours to go, the N7 car of Gene/Minassian,/Villeneuve was forced to pit after an engine problem was detected and, after long work in the garage, it was forced to retire with 100 minutes of racing remaining. Happily, the N8 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP of Lamy/Sarrazin/Bourdais was there to give Peugeot its first podium finish (2nd) with the new diesel engine on the marque's return to Le Mans despite an engine alert in the final hour, the majority of which was run under the safety car.
After driver changes at ten minute intervals shortly after noon (12.11 and 12.22), the N7 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP makes an unscheduled stop at 12.38 after its 337th lap while in 2nd place. While the car is being worked on, the N8 sister car (3rd) steadily closes the gap and passes into 2nd place at 12.50.
Shortly afterwards, the long forecast rain starts to fall. The race leader (car N1) pits for wet weather tyres at 12.55 after its 346th lap. At 13.03, the N16 car leaves the pits after a stop and passes the N7 Peugeot to go 3rd overall.
At 13.20, after being stopped 42 minutes in its pits, car N7 re-joins the race in 4th position. At the end of its next lap, it pits again following an oil pressure warning, however, and retires with 100 minutes of the race remaining, .
Final drama comes at 14.15 when the N8 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP is wheeled into its garage and the team begins to work on the engine. Twenty minutes later, it is wheeled back out of the garage and is ultimately re-started at 14.38 and re-joins the race in 2nd place. At 15.03, the N8 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP crosses the finish line to claim 2nd place after completing 359 laps (4,892.81km).
Jacques VILLENEUVE (N7 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP): "On my very last run, the main challenge was to stay sufficiently concentrated to ensure the ideal balance between a good pace and keeping an eye on fuel consumption. Looking back at my first ever participation in the Le Mans 24 Hours, I have to say that I found the early part of the race quite difficult because of all the traffic. To be comfortable with a track like this to know where it is possible to overtake, for example there are not that many solutions: you've basically got to have done the event once. And my intention is to come back until I win it..."
Stephane SARRAZIN (N8 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP): "Everything's going well for us. Now all we want is to make it to the chequered flag. But it's not over yet [NB: Stephane is talking at the end of his stint] and it's practically more difficult to drive cautiously than to push hard. The car is now very competitive and very nicely balanced."
Bruno FAMIN (Technical Director, Peugeot Sport): "When the N7 car pitted the first time with its problem, we didn't succeed in identifying what was wrong with the engine. The car was able to re-join the race, but an irremediable oil pressure warning came up on the telemetry and that left us no choice but to retire. Before we came here, we had managed to eradicate all the problems up to 3,500km of running. Now others have become apparent that occur after that distance and we will now need to solve them. The N8 car had an engine scare too, although not necessarily the same as the one that sidelined the N7 car."