The Circuit des 24 Heures, also known as Circuit de la Sarthe, located in Le Mans, France, is a semi-permanent race course most famous as the venue for the 24 Hours of Le Mans auto race. The track uses local roads that remain open to the public most of the year. The circuit, in its present configuration, is 13.629 kilometres (8.47 mi) long, making it one of the longest circuits in the world. Capacity of the race stadium is 100,000.
Le Mans is a race where up to 85% of the time is spent on full throttle, causing immense stress on engine and drivetrain components. However, the times spent reaching maximum speed also mean tremendous wear on the brakes and suspension as cars must slow from over 200 mph (320 km/h) to around 65 mph (100 km/h) for the end of Mulsanne in a short distance. Downforce in the era of Group C cars helped braking to some degree but presently, cars are tending towards low downforce in favor of higher speeds in the face of power limiting regulations.
In 1988, Team WM Peugeot knew they had no chance of winning the 24 hour endurance race, but they also knew that their Welter Racing designed car had very good aerodynamics. Thus they nicknamed their 1988 entry "Project 400" (aiming to be the first car to achieve a speed of 400 km/h on the famous straight), although the official team entry was named WM Secateva. Roger Dorchy, Claude Haldi, and Jean-Daniel Raulet were the three drivers that year.
The Peugeot 2.8L V6 turbo-charged PRV engine had its air intakes taped over to improve aerodynamics, and they also equipped the car with special narrow Michelin tyres. The plan worked: on June 11, 1988, with Roger Dorchy behind the wheel, the WM P87 achieved the speed of 405 km/h (251.7 mph).
Taping over the air intakes obviously impedes engine cooling and the Peugeot retired after 59 laps with an overheating engine, though it outlasted two other Group C1 entrants.
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