Peugeot has announced its new 9X8 Le Mans racer, ready to take on the World Endurance Championship in 2022.
Competing in the Hypercar class, the 9X8 will use a hybrid powertrain and features radical design elements.
It will see Peugeot take on Toyota at Le Mans in 2022, with Ferrari set to build a car to Le Mans Hypercar rules for 2023.
Aston Martin cancelled plans for its own Valkyrie-based competitor.
A real road racer
The new Le Mans Hypercar class has been created to attract more manufacturers to endurance racing. Spiralling costs previously pushed Audi and Porsche to withdraw from the World Endurance Championship.
Along with specialist prototypes, manufacturers can also enter cars based on road-going models. This requires 20 street-legal cars to be made.
This should allow manufacturers to make the link between road and race cars more tangible. Peugeot itself notes that the 9X8 has “styling excellence, efficiency and technological expertise” that can transfer to its road cars.
Part of the Peugeot family
The three “claw-like strokes”, forming the LED lights at the front and rear of the 9X8, are an obvious nod to current Peugeot products. Selenium Grey paint, matched with Kryptonite Green highlights, is similar to that seen on the new Peugeot 508 PSE models.
Choosing to call the new Le Mans Hypercar 9X8 links it to Peugeot models past and present.
Previous Peugeot Le Mans racers have used a “9” branding, whilst the “X” refers to the hybrid all-wheel drive powertrain. Finally, the “8” is a reference to current Peugeots like the 3008 and 508.
Race car interiors are typically spartan affairs. But, Peugeot has made ample use of Kryptonite Green inside the 9X8. It should certainly help keep drivers awake on those lengthy Le Mans stints…
No longer winging it
Peugeot has opted to go without a rear wing, typically seen on endurance prototype racers. Instead, Stellantis motorsport director Jean-Marc Finot says the 9X8 has “a degree of aerodynamic efficiency” that allows it to go wingless.
Hybrid powertrains are optional in the Hypercar category, but Peugeot has chosen to use one. A twin-turbocharged 680 hp 2.6-litre V6 will power the rear wheels, with a 200 kW electric motor driving the front axle.
We will have to wait until next year to see if the 9X8 can deliver on track, and continue Peugeot’s previous Le Mans success.