Peugeot identifies Le Mans problems

Peugeot has identified the cause of the failures that wrecked its Le Mans 24 Hours bid this year

Peugeot identifies Le Mans problems

The 908s were in a dominant position for much of the race, but all three works cars and the ORECA example were all forced to retire, handing victory to arch-rival Audi.

Three of the Peugeots went out with similar engine problems, and the team's chief engineer Bruno Famin said these had been traced to the new conrods used for the 2010 race, and a combination of circumstances that led to them being overloaded.

"As far as the engines are concerned, it didn't take us long to confirm that all three engines suffered the same problem, i.e. conrod failure, although the cylinders that were affected were different," he explained.

"Further investigation has just revealed that the particularly severe conditions encountered at Le Mans in June led to excessive overload of the V12s in question.

"Indeed, the track benefited from high levels of grip this year, so the engines spent longer at full throttle than we expected. At the same time, the weather stayed cool and, unlike previous years, the air/air intercoolers did not become clogged up. The filling of the combustion chambers remained extremely efficient throughout, which in turn meant that the performance delivered by the engines was particularly high.

"Okay, the conditions were the same for all competitors, but we were running new conrods this year. That said, they had undergone thorough testing on the bench and during the numerous on-track simulations we carried out upstream of the race.

"We didn't observe the slightest problem with them during any of these test sessions, so there was nothing to suggest that we were closer to the limit than we had imagined. As it turned out, the race conditions tipped us to the wrong side of that limit.

"Having contested the Le Mans 24 Hours three times, we had every faith in our processes. The evidence now points to the fact that this wasn't the case and that despite our growing experience, it is very difficult to master absolutely everything.

"The conditions we face at Le Mans differ every year, as do the constraints to which the cars are subjected. It is clear that we need to reinforce our validation procedures."

He added the the suspension problem that halted the #3 car earlier in the race was due to a production issue with the chassis.

"We have found a quality-related problem concerning the production of the tub at the point where the lower front-right suspension wishbone is attached to the chassis," said Famin.

"This is the same tub that won the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours and the 2010 1,000km de Spa-Francorchamps, and - like every 908 chassis - is regularly inspected at the factory using sophisticated tools that enable us to detect ageing or damage to the carbon.

"The problem in this case, however, was due to a totally undetectable defect which resulted in a premature and sudden failure of the mounting point."

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