The iconic section of the 24 Hours circuit known as the Mulsanne Straight whets the appetite for speed. Manufacturers earn bragging rights by setting speed records on this stretch of the track, and Porsche saw its coveted reign challenged in 1988.
For countless competitors, taking the start in the 24 Hours is a dream. This certainly was true for Gérard Welter and Michel Meunier beginning in 1976. Associated with Peugeot, they naturally turned to the French constructor to help make the dream a reality. Despite an impressive fourth place finish in 1980, the WM team found it unfeasible to achieve better results, so it decided on the goal of setting the speed record at Le Mans.
Their first attempt at the "400 kph project" was tried in 1987, but failed. The following year, the team's hopes were placed in its new weapon, the WM P88. Roger Dorchy, Claude Haldi and Jean-Daniel Raulet were tasked with taking the PRV V6 (Peugeot-Renault-Volvo) beyond 9,200 rpms, more than 400 kph.
After several unsuccessful attempts and a fall in the overall classification, Dorchy was charged with focusing solely on completing the mission. He proceeded to stop after each lap and ask his team if he had set the record or not. At 20:46, Dorchy did it! He had reached 405 kph in the Mulsanne Straight! The exact speed was an extraordinary wink to the new Peugeot released that year...the 405.
The temporary Peugeot Exhibition: Allure Le Mans is available for viewing at the 24 Hours Museum until 30 September.
For more info, go to the official 24 Hours Museum website.