Peugeot has a surprisingly rich motorsport history, full of World Rally Championship, Dakar, and Le Mans history. And it’s the latter that the French marque is gearing up to revisit.
Overnight it unveiled the new 9X8 — its answer to the upcoming World Endurance Championship ‘hypercar’ regulations. It aims to have the car in competition by 2022, with aims of competing in that year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans event.
The low-slung racer is striking, with the makings of a double-diffuser set-up up front and straked headlights and taillights that make it look like a visual cousin to Peugeot’s road cars.
Under the bodywork sits a 2.6-litre petrol V6 engine paired with a 900 volt electric motor. The former produces 500kW of power, while the latter adds 200kW to the mix. The internal combustion motor exclusively powers the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual clutch, while the silent e-motor powers the fronts.
The interior meanwhile, designed to mimic the i-Cockpit layout of Peugeot’s road cars, looks more like it was crafted in Minecraft. It comes with the requisite motorsport fare; a fully annotated steering wheel with display, a safety cell structure around the driver.
The main talking point of the 9X8, though, is the fact that it doesn’t have a rear wing. Instead the bodywork simply ekes away — a big distinction relative to the Toyota and Glickenhaus hypercars that have already been shown off.
While Peugeot has been coy about actually explaining how it’s achieved a car that generates enough aero to play with the rest of the pack without the need for a wing, we suspect it comes down to how air is channeled through its stepped front end.
“The absence of a rear wing on the Peugeot 9X8 is a major innovative step,” said 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.”
Peugeot has also unveiled a fairly serious looking driver line-up for its 9X8 programme. Former Formula 1 drivers Kevin Magnussen, Paul di Resta, and Jean-Eric Vergne are present, as is enduro expert Loic Duval. Gustavo Menezes and Mikkel Jensen complete the line-up.