It comes without a rear wing! Peugeot has let the cat out of the bag and published the first pictures of the LMH bolide 9X8 without retouching. It remains with two small wings on the rear fenders in the style of the first Ferrari FXX. A continuous main leaf is missing.
The pictures show the Le Mans hypercar being tested at Motorland Aragon. At the same time, Peugeot is also announcing the starting numbers for the 2022 World Endurance Championship (WEC). The two 9X8 compete with the numbers 93 and 94.
The 93 commemorates the Peugeot 905’s last Le Mans win in 1993, the final Group C season. The 94 “is of course the number that follows,” says a press statement from Peugeot. You couldn’t dial 92 because Porsche blocked the numbers 91 and 92 because of the 911 – an ironic late consequence of the naming conflict between the two brands in the 1960s.
Peugeot itself had fueled speculation about a possible departure from the “no-rear-wing” concept when the rear was retouched during the rollout in December 2021. This has now turned out to be a ruse. The downforce is largely created on the underbody – and on the two small wings on the wheel arches.
“This configuration [ohne Heckflügel] is allowed in the hypercar rules of the FIA and ACO, “says Peugeot technical director Olivier Jansonnie. “Our calculations in the wind tunnel have confirmed our decision. We will test them on circuits with different characteristics.”
Difficulty due to changed WEC calendar
Unsurprisingly, Peugeot has also announced that it will not take part in the 1,000 miles of Sebring, the season opener for the WEC 2022. However, it still reserves the right to start at the 6 Hours of Spa. WEC boss Frederic Lequien recently expressed optimism that the lions will be there in Spa.
The decision will not be easy for Peugeot. When it was announced in November 2019, the hypercar program was originally designed for a 2022/23 WEC season, which should have started in late summer 2022. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the WEC has switched back to an annual calendar.
On the one hand, the parent company Stellantis has an interest in competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans as early as 2022. Due to the Balance of Performance (BoP), however, the car has to drive in Spa because the ACO needs data.
The alternative would be to take your time with the development, but Peugeot can then make its debut at the 6 Hours of Monza in July at the earliest. Because the vehicle will be homologated for several years, Peugeot cannot rush into anything. Nothing would be more fatal than homologating a vehicle in an immature state for years just to take part in the first possible race.
Engine tested for nine months
The first use of the car is based on three factors: how ready the car is to race, as well as reliability and competitiveness. “We have agreed this with the organizers, who we keep informed about our development program,” says Jean-Marc Finot, Motorsport Director at Stellantis.
“We could have just competed in selected races without registering for the season. That would have been possible, but less consistent. Instead, we decided to establish the team fully in this discipline. This allows us to work more closely with the organizers, even if we don’t contest every race.”
The Peugeot 9X8 is powered by a 2.6-liter V6 biturbo engine, which was first tested in April 2021. There is also a 272 hp hybrid system that has been in testing since November 2021. The complete drive train has been running with all-wheel drive since December.
The system performance is determined by the BoP. It will be between 670 and 720 hp. Peugeot states 680 hp (690 hp). The power is generated evenly – the less the electric drive controls, the more the combustion engine does and vice versa. The battery is a complete in-house development by Peugeot, TotalEnergies and Saft.