Model history: When the Group B class was cancelled at the end of the 1986 season, the back-to-back World Championship winning Peugeot 205 was left obsolete. The Jean Todt run Peugeot Sport team was left with several options; they could build a new Group A car to continue in the World Rally Championship, or broaden their perspective and enter a new form of racing. The first option was discarded and the Group B cars were converted to race in events like Paris Dakar and the Pikes Peak Hillclimb. A change in the Group C regulations for Le Mans cars opened new prospects for the French manufacturer. The new '3.5 litre' regulations allowed Peugeot to enter sportscar racing with a clean sheet design without having to face thoroughly developed machines. Following the Formula 1 regulations, Turbo charged engines were banned and a displacement maximum of 3.5 litre was set. The thought behind this was that it could in the long run lure more manufacturers into F1.
Having never won the legendary event, Peugeot decided to use the Group B Championship winning momentum to take a stab at Le Mans and the associated World Sportscar Championship. A completely new engine had to be developed and the Peugeot engineers came up with a V10 engine with a rather unconventional 80 degree V-angle. It was one of the very first ten cylinder engines and helped set a trend in Formula 1. The rest of the 'SA35-A1' followed a familiar pattern with its light alloy construction and four valve per cylinder, twin cam layout. Mated to a six speed gearbox, the V10 was bolted as a fully stressed to a Dassault Aerospace engineered carbon fibre monocoque. If it wasn't for the two seater layout, the rolling Peugeot 905 LM chassis could easily be mistaken for a contemporary F1 racer. That fact was hidden by a fully enveloping body of which the nose shared some design cues with the road going Peugeots of the day.
Halfway through 1990 and some two years after the program was first announced, the Peugeot 905 was officially unveiled on the Magny Cours circuit. After a short development period, a single car competed in the final rounds of the 1990 World Sports Car Championship (WSSC) in the hands of former Formula 1 drivers Jean-Pierre Jabouille and Keke Rosberg. It could not quite match the existing (old regulation) Group C cars for pace, but was quicker than the Cosworth engined Spices built to the same regulations. Sadly the 480 km debut race was cut short after just 22 laps when the fuel pump failed. With the 905 further developed and the old cars penalized, things looked bright for Peugeot in 1991, but not surprisingly the competition had also developed 3.5 litre racers. The TWR prepared Jaguar XJR-14 proved to be the quickest by quite a margin and the poor reliability again did not do the Peugeot any favours. A fluke win was scored at Suzuka, but Le Mans turned out to be a disaster with longest running car covering a mere 68 laps. Both cars were blisteringly in qualifying though and they started from the front row.
Throughout the 1991 season Peugeot developed the heavily revised 905 'Evolution 1 Bis'. Apart from the monocoque chassis, no part of the car was left untouched. The most notable difference was the completely revised bodywork that had far fewer road going design cues. For high-downforce tracks a separate wing could be bolted onto the nose and the massive rear wing could just as well been taken off a World War I double-decker airplane. The engine was also revised and this SA35-A2 was good for an additional 20 bhp. Although the Evo 1 Bis did not win first time out, its debut at the 1991 Nürburgring (WSSC) was a true turning point in the 905's racing career. In the subsequent Magny Cours and Mexico rounds of the championship, Peugeot scored convincing 1-2 victories. Peugeot finished second in the championship standings behind Jaguar, but ahead of defending champions Sauber Mercedes.
Peugeot's main rivals in 1991 both withdrew at the end of the season, although the XJR-14 was fielded (thinly disguised) as the Mazda MXR-01 powered by a Judd V10 instead of the Cosworth V8 used by Jaguar in 1991. The rule changes were completed that season, which meant that the likes of the Porsche 962 and Jaguar XJR-12s and its privateer entrants were no longer allowed to run, which translated in very small fields. Peugeot's biggest competitor was the Toyota TS010, which won the season opening round at Monza. Peugeot did not make a mistake and won the subsequent five rounds of the season, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans. There the rule changes saw the grid down to just 30 cars; a record for the post-War era. Needless to say, Peugeot also won the World Championship, well ahead of Toyota and Mazda. The FIA's plans to somewhat put the limelight back on Formula 1 had clearly worked, but at the expense of sports car racing; 1993 was the first time in forty years that there was no World Sports Car Championship.
Before the cancellation of the 1993 championship was announced, Peugeot had already started developing a second evolution of the 905. Officially known as the 'Evo 2', its rather striking aerodynamics quickly earned it the nickname 'Supercopter'. Compared to the previous evolution the new nose was the most notable difference. No longer hiding its F1 similarities, the nose looked quite like a single seater with added fenders. The fenders were open on the inside to release high pressure normally built up inside the wheel well. Sadly it was never raced, but it, together with the similar Allard J2X, most certainly inspired the LMP designers of the late 1990s. Although there was no World Championship, there of course was a 24 Hours of Le Mans and Peugeot put a true crown on the 905's career by scoring a 1-2-3 victory. That was the last time the 905 was raced and Peugeot not surprisingly turned their focus to Formula 1 as an engine supplier for McLaren in 1994. The 80-degree V10 might have faired well at Le Mans, it was rather unimpressive in F1.
Built new for the 1991 season chassis EV15 was campaigned throughout the year. It scored a debut victory at Suzuka and later in the year won the World Championship rounds at Magny Cours and Mexico. At Le Mans, it set the second fastest time in qualifying but was eventually forced to retire with a broken shift linkage. In 1992, it was used only as a T-car for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. After its contemporary racing career it was retained by Peugeot Sport. During 2005 and 2006, it was completely restored to running order by Peugeot. Shortly after the refurbishment was completed, it was demonstrated by Works test Eric Helary during the 2006 Le Mans Classic. It was subsequently sold at the 2007 Artcurial Retromobile auction for 936,400 Euro.
Chassis EV16 was one of two new cars built for the 1992 season. Piloted by Philippe Alliot, Mauro Baldi and Jean-Pierre Jabouille, it finished third at Le Mans behind the winning sister car and one of the Toyotas. Later in the season, it was driven to victories in the World Championship rounds at Donnington and Magny Cours. During the 1993 24 Hours of Le Mans chassis EV16 was crashed in practice and did not take part in the race. Some time after its retirement this 905 Evo 1 Bis joined a very impressive German collection. It is brought out at rare occasions for demonstrations. Here it is shown at the 2007 Goodwood Festival of Speed where the 25th anniversary of Group C was celebrated.
I don't think Peugeot did as blatantly as just dust off the design and build a LMP out of it, but there are definitely lesson learned from this(and the later variant) that got applied to the new car....the unique rear anti-roll bar layout is used on the 908 also...
is it just me-or is the peugeot 908 a dusted down group c 905