June 13, 2008

Peugeot diesels at the front of the 24h of Le Mans

Readers of elephant may not be familiar with the world of racing but the French squad’s accomplishment of a 1-2-3 in Qualifying for the world’s quickest and most difficult 24 hour race is significant. For the last few years, Audi has been dominating Le Mans with their revolutionary (and first) diesel Le Mans car by winning the event for the last 2 years running. Recently Peugeot returned to racing and after a troublesome debut in 2007, they have crushed Audi in Qualifying with their 908HDi.

So what does this all mean for eco-ness? Le Mans is a track that is all about out-right speed, reliability and strategy (read: fuel consumption). Peugeot has to run faster and deeper than Audi with fewer mistakes to beat the top-notch team. They also have to burn less fuel and make less pit stops. In a 24 hour race, the significance of strategy is massive.

The competition of two diesel teams now allows these clean burning diesel technologies to be implemented into their fleet of road cars with immediate effect. Most european car manufactures have been on the forefront of diesel tech for the better part of 40 years. However now that diesels are winning races, Peugeot and Audi have put diesel as their sporting brand, which sells the appeal of these cars.

Enzo Ferrari once said that he sold road cars in order to go racing, but for the new global market, those roles are distinctly reversed. Racing serves a direct purpose of improving technologies while increasing the appeal to sell cars. So having diesels in this realm is highly important, and there are now rumors of a hybrid race car which has yet to prove it’s desirability in both performance and speed.

If you wanna watch this French spectacle of endurance, the race will be on SpeedTV this weekend with the start on Saturday morning and the finish on Sunday morning.

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