Gentle Giant - Peugeot 806 Procar
Kids to school at 9, Spa-Francorchamps at 10.
Touring car racing is something we all know and mostly love. It’s a great blend of technology, driver skill and close racing, and when you throw in some of the best looking car/ livery combinations imaginable, you have the foundations for a fantastic type of motorsport which is sure to win the hearts of fans around the world.
Typically midsize or compact saloons and hatchbacks are entered and there are often a good mix of manufacturer and privateer entries. Sometimes though, people try unusual things and experiment, to varying levels of success. Peugeot Belgique was one team unafraid to think outside the box, and that brings us to the box itself; the 806 Procar.
For the 1995 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (in the Belgian Touring Car Series), Peugeot wanted to try something out of the ordinary. They wanted to enter a locally developed car into the Procar 2 category. A third party known as ‘Kronos Racing’ was put in charge of building the car. Of all the options (306, 405 etc.), they naturally chose the manufacturer’s own high riding MPV, the 806.
As is plain to see, a multitude of suspension and running gear modifications were made. Modifications isn’t a fair word really, as the entirety of the car’s underpinnings was taken from a Peugeot 405 Mi16 touring car. The engine was a modified mish mash of Peugeot parts, consisting of a Group A 306 rally car block and a (further modified) head from a Class 2 405. A steel valvetrain was built to replace the flimsy but light titanium ones, and in the end the engine produced all of 260HP, not a bad figure for the era.
After the work was completed, adjudicators deemed the car worthy of participating. It passed all the technical requirements for the category, so was an official Belgian Procar. As the specifications for this class were near identical to those of FIA Class 2 (Supertouring), the van would have been able to go toe to toe with the BTCC’s finest.
Qualifying 12th on the grid overall (3rd in class), the heavyweight instantly shot down any doubters amongst the competition. Indeed, many class rivals thought it should not be allowed to enter, as its high COG lead them to believe it would be a danger on-track, or that just plain and simply wouldn’t be fast enough. The Pug was having none of that, so proceeded to wipe the floor with half the other participants in its class.
During the race itself, the car seemed to let down its amazing qualifying pace with a string of catastrophic mechanical failures. In the first hour, it had to stop because of brake problems among others, and this was followed by an onslaught of problems including the differential being stroppy. Engine mounts started to play up, and in the end the engine itself gave way, forcing Kronos to retire their creation within the first ten hours of racing.
In the end then, Peugeot’s idea didn’t pay off too well. It was an interesting, surprisingly fast concept, but just didn’t last as long as they would have hoped. It’s a shame we no longer see as interesting motorsport entries as we did in the 1990s, they give racing some more flair. Whilst there are still plenty of ways to have exciting, close racing, none of them are as exciting as they’d be with a people carrier fighting for the class lead. In the end, the 806 was deemed a failure, though it still exists today.