Peugeot clips the wing of its radical Le Mans challenger
Innovative Hybrid 9X8 throws down the gauntlet to World Endurance Championship rivals
Peugeot has taken the wraps off the futuristic 9X8, its latest-generation Hypercar challenger which in 2022 will make its competitive debut in the FIA World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) that includes the Le Mans 24-Hours.
The 9X8 follows a victorious line of Peugeots at Le Mans, including the Peugeot 905 that won in 1992 and 1993, and the 908 in 2009.
The French racer will take the fight to Ferrari, Porsche, BMW, Audi and Toyota in the WEC. It will compete in the new Le Mans Hypercar (LMH) class which, along with the Le Mans Daytona Hybrid (LMDh), succeed LMP1 as the top class in endurance racing.
The greater flexibility allowed by the sport’s new aerodynamic rules has seen the 9X8 designed with a unique feature: unlike most racing cars, it doesn’t have a rear wing.
The regulations permit just one adjustable aerodynamic device, without specifying the rear wing, and Peugeot’s simulations revealed that high performance was possible without one.
“The absence of a rear wing on the Peugeot 9X8 is a major innovative step,” says Stellantis Motorsport director Jean-Marc Finot. “We have achieved a degree of aerodynamic efficiency that allows us to do away with this feature. Don’t ask how, though. We have every intention of keeping that a secret as long as we possibly can.”
Doing away with a rear wing provided the freedom to design a sleek silhouette that hasn’t been seen for decades, according to Peugeot. The result is a harmonious blend of dynamic, sculpted shapes which form a clean, sweeping surface between the prominent wheel arches.
The 9X8’s front and rear lighting, which take the form of three claw-like strokes, are familiar styling trademarks in Peugeot’s road cars, while the brand’s new lion’s head logo features in backlit form at the front and on the sides of the car.
The 98X uses a hybrid power unit and all-wheel drive, with a seven-speed sequential gearbox. At the rear is a 2.6l bi-turbo V6 engine producing 500kW, complemented by a front-mounted 200kW motor-generator unit fed by a 900-volt high-density battery.
“Le Mans has become a 24-hour sprint race that can be won or lost by the number of times you pit. The exceptional energy efficiency of the new hypercars prefigures what we will see shortly in the world of road cars,” Finot says.
“This consideration had a fundamental influence on our work on the Peugeot 9X8 package, every aspect of which needs to contribute to achieving hyper-efficiency, from its power train to its aerodynamics,” he says.
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