Vintage is a relative term, and among HSR’s Group 6 for Historic, Post Historic and Modern Era Prototypes are a slew of racecars that have only recently “retired” from professional competition to join the ranks of vintage racing. Among them is the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP, chassis number 10, now owned and driven by David Porter.
The diesel-powered 5.5-liter, twin-turbo V12 908 HDi FAP debuted in the LMP class of the ACO’s Le Mans Series in 2007 and would continue competing in this configuration through the 2011 season. In that time, it claimed 20 wins from 30 starts making Peugeot the dominant manufacturer of the era in the LMP class despite only winning once at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2009. Porter’s chassis number 10 won on its debut at the Autosport 1000 km of Silverstone in the hands of Nicolas Minassian and Anthony Davidson. It was the first of its three victories that also included the 6 Hours of Zhuhai race in China as part of the Le Mans Intercontinental Cup and the 2011 American Le Mans Series Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
“A few years back, a friend of mine, Bob Berridge, had done a deal with Peugeot Sport to buy seven cars along with all the spares and the data,” recalls Porter. “When I heard about it, I went across to the U.K., sat in the car to make sure it was right for me, and then we made the arrangements to buy it.”
Porter, a long time endurance racing fan, had come up through the ranks of vintage racing in a variety of open-wheel and sports cars. The decision to move into car of more recent spec was driven in part by an admiration for the era in which it ran as well as the safety that a contemporary car offers.
“I always raced older cars until 2012 including a March 79B that I absolutely loved. But now at my age, I’d rather race something with a roof. Plus, it’s built like a bridge,” Porter goes on. “And I just loved that era of sports car racing. The Audi versus Peugeot battle was just one of the best ever. It’s a real privilege to own this car. And, it’s a lot of fun to drive.”
According to Porter, the Peugeot, which only revs to 4,000 RPM conjures all its speed thanks to the prodigious torque it produces. “You change gear when you get a beep in your helmet. The first three gears come so fast, it’s almost as fast as you can hit the (shift) paddles,” he says. “It’s a lot more torque than horsepower, which we estimate to be 880 ft-lb. The way the traction control manages it is a technological marvel.”
Porter does his best to run the car as it was meant to. That includes following precisely the same two-hour long cold start procedure as defined by Peugeot Sport. It also means trying to run the car with the same power output.
Initially, the car came with a limited supply of factory-spec diesel fuel, but when it began to run out, Porter had to find an alternative solution. Due to its highly specialized nature and specific application, the original supplier was not interested in reproducing the fuel in the small volume Porter needs.
“There are other race diesels available and honestly, it would run on pump diesel. But that’s not how to get the full performance from the car as it was raced when new,” offers Porter. “Fortunately, I found ETS Racing Fuels who were able to produce a custom batch of fuel for the car that is very close to the original formulation (in terms of performance), and the car continues to produce similar power to what it did when it was first raced back in 2010.”
The need for a fuel that matched the factory specification was also driven by the fact that soon after acquiring the car, Porter went to great lengths to have the engine mapped to exactly the way it ran in the 2010 season. The adventure included persuading a Peugeot engineer now working in another department to carry out the work in his spare time. Using a fuel of a different specification would have rendered that effort moot.
As it would turn out, there were more legal obstacles than technical challenges in creating the new fuel for Porter.
“The technical challenge for us was to produce a fuel that matches the characteristics of the original fuel with a new formulation that does not contravene any patents of the original supplier,” explains Yann Labia, Motorsports Product Manager for ETS Racing Fuels. “It took quite some time and effort to research the patents, much of which related to the materials used to create the fuel. We were able to work with different materials to create a new formula that operated within the same performance parameters. Once we created the new formulation, it only took another couple of months to produce the initial batch of fuel David Porter needs to run the car as it was intended.”
With the ever-increasing class competition, Porter needed to summon all of his driving prowess along with the Peugeot’s full potential. He did just that in capping off 2020 with two wins on the trot at the HSR Classic 24 Hour At Daytona and the Sebring Classic 12 Hour races making the extra effort to get the right fuel all the more worthwhile.
Classic Cars Demand the Right Fuel
With very high batch-to-batch consistency, CLASSIC RACING is a gasoline made of hydrocarbons & oxygenated molecules with purity > 98% and is ethanol free. It can be used in 2 and 4-stroke engines, naturally aspirated or turbocharged engines. Its high octane number helps to avoid any knocking problems in older high-compression ratio engines. And, despite being unleaded, it prevents potential valve seat recession.
Although ethanol free, the oxygen content helps to cool the engine and can be stored in your car’s tank for longer periods without generating any deposits or gums.