Up for the (Racing) Cup: PH Blog

No, it's not as fast as a 208 T16. Yes, I've braked like a big wuss. And yes, it really was just a couple of quick(ish) laps. Sorry. But racing cars, even fairly low-ranking ones like a 308 Racing Cup, are always cool. Motorsport stuff just is, isn't it? So please bear with me while I tell you why, despite what the vid may tell you, driving the 308 was an absolute riot.

Racing cars are an event before you've moved a metre. You scramble through a roll cage, drop to the floor in a bucket seat and face a set of dials unlike any you've seen in a road car. The harnesses are tightened, tightened a bit more... and then, presumably just for good measure, tightened again. Ouch. But, weirdly, it soon feels entirely comfortable.

In the 308 you then press the power button, wait for the whirring behind you to stop, flick an ignition switch, and hit 'start'. I'm not the only one who loves a start-up procedure, am I? Obviously it's loud too, even through a helmet.

The Racing Cup uses a six-speed sequential, with first engaged through depressing the clutch - novel concept - pressing the 'neutral button' on the wheel and pulling the right hand paddle. Give it a few more revs than you think you'll need and it's rolling - even before 10mph is breached, there's just so much going on. It's brilliant.

Now, despite apparently using a turbo from the Pikes Peak 208, this 308 is not a wildly powerful race car; it's claimed to make 308hp - see what they did there - and weighs 1,100kg. Certainly brisk, then, but not out of this world. Moreover, booming noise aside, the engine isn't quite as enjoyable as the rest of the car.

The sequential is fabulous though. Of course modern dual-clutches and autos have caught up to an extent, but there's nothing to match the savagery of a full-throttle upshift in a racing car. It feels brutal, and immensely satisfying too, whether up or down the ratios.

It's the brakes and the grip that stand out however, as is so often the way with racing cars. And, as is also so often the way with racing cars, a clot who is used to road cars simply cannot exploit the full potential of both in just a few laps. By the end of the session I thought I was braking quite assertively, giving the fantastically firm pedal a good prod - the telemetry shows a very different story...

Same with the grip. The slicks offer just mighty purchase on the tarmac, with genuine aero there for faster corners too. It required a far greater leap of faith than I was willing to take to see where that grip ended, though watching the pros' laps shows just how much speed could have been carried with a little more confidence.

I'd love to tell you that there's some kind of convenient tangible link between the road-going 308 and the race car, but that would be a lie. It feels like it's from another planet, in a brilliant way. I love racing cars. I don't love watching this footage back though. Can I have another go? Watch the video here



[Source: Peugeot Sport]

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Comments (6) Join the discussion on the forum

  • JMF894 12 Jul 2017

    Speed is relative so it doesn't look especially fast on the wide open, empty track but I must take issue with the comment that it isn't an especially quick car. I find this attitude rather irksome as it goes to show how spoilt you lot are sometimes.

    My lardy 9-5 Aero has around 310-320bhp and is quick. For me. This 308 probably weighs almost half a tonne LESS. By most mortal peoples standards it will be bloody quick!

    And yes, you brake like my mother................................... wink


  • Greg 172 12 Jul 2017

    Bravo for being brave enough to put this up. A good illustration of the commitment needed to get the best from a real racer - looks like you have to forget about mechanical sympathy too!

  • Heathrow 13 Jul 2017

    I recently had some driver training from Bradley Philpot who I imagine most wouldn't have heard of. He currently races the 308 in the TCR class in the VLN series (i.e. Nurburgring). Echoing the opening post, re: pulling you up about this "not being an especially quick car" - I'd encourage you to check out his race results and have a look at some of the GT cars which on paper are much quicker but are much further down the results list. Just reinforces the skills these top drivers have. This is a very quick car in the right hands!

  • Futse 13 Jul 2017

    Fairly low-ranking ones?

    Since this a works race car, driven in international TCR, I wouldn't exactly call it low ranking. Many amateur racers can only dream of the budget to drive one of these. And they indeed are seriously quick in the right hands (not mine either, I have to admit...).

  • Mike348 13 Jul 2017

    I wouldn't beat yourself up too much about your driving Matt, your main job here was to relay the experience and you did that. I for one couldn't have done it any better.

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