With the introduction of the new Hypercar category, Peugeot will attempt to do something unheard of for over 50 years: win the 24 Hours of Le Mans without a rear wing. The French automaker raised some eyebrows when the first images of its wingless race car were released last summer, as large rear fenders have been a fixture of racing for decades. But the 9X8 hit the track last month for its first test, and as you can see, it’s still without wing.
The 9X8 is designed to compete under the new Hypercar rules, which are complicated and unfriendly for casual fans. Not all Hypercars have to be hybrids, but the 9X8 is. Behind the cockpit and in front of the rear wheels it powers is a new 2.6L Biturbo petrol V6, good for 500 kW (670 hp). In front of the driver’s feet, you will find a 200 kW (268 hp) electric motor-generator unit. To maintain safe speeds, total power is capped at 500kW by the 9X8’s electronic brain.
Although the 9X8’s powertrain is all-new, it’s not actually Peugeot’s first hybrid endurance racer. This honor goes to the 908 Hybrid4, which was due to contest Le Mans in 2012. Instead, Peugeot shut down its racing program early after an economic downturn and layoffs made such side business unsustainable.
The 9X8’s aerodynamics appear less conventional than its hybrid powertrain. Instead of emphasizing high downforce, Hypercar rules call for a 4:1 downforce-to-drag ratio, partly to maintain reasonable cornering speeds and partly to allow designers to use more road car styling cues without it having a deleterious effect. on performance.
And what could be more like a road car than not having a gigantic biplane strapped to the back of a car?
“Our calculations and our work in the wind tunnel have confirmed the relevance of our decision to run without a rear wing. With the developments and the adjustments that this option calls for, we expect it to be validated as we test. on different circuits with different characteristics,” said Olivier Jansonnie, technical director of Peugeot Sport’s World Endurance Championship program.
Instead of using a rear wing to push the car down the track, the 9X8 has a specially shaped underbody that creates ground effect instead.
The 9X8 engine underwent its first dyno test last April, with the first MGU dyno test taking place in November 2021. In December, the complete powertrain was assembled and dyno tested for the first time, and the car underwent its first track test. , which took place in Aragorn in Spain.
Peugeot has officially entered two cars in the 2022 FIA World Endurance Championship, but don’t expect to see them when the season opener takes place in Sebring, Florida in March.
“The 9X8 will make its racing debut depending on its level of readiness, reliability and competitiveness, as agreed with the championship organizers, who we will keep regularly informed as our development program progresses.” , said Jean-Marc Finot, director of Stellantis Motorsport (Stellantis is Peugeot’s parent company). “We could have opted to attend selected races only, without committing to the season. This would have been possible but less consistent. Instead, we have chosen an approach that will allow the team to be completely immersed in discipline, which will mean a much closer collaboration with the organizers even if the 9X8 does not compete in all the races as our development work and the homologation process continues.”
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