PEUGEOT has some of the most surprising and successful racing histories in the automotive world.
Accomplishing three overall Le Mans 24-hour victories in 1992, 1993 and 2009, they’re one of the only brands to battle with Audi and come out victorious. But to win in the eyes of the fans, your car has to be more than just fast, it has to be interesting to look at and innovative. They achieved such with the PEUGEOT 908 HDi FAP back in 2009 thanks to its choice of powertrain (it was powered to victory by a 5.5-litre V12 diesel engine) and they’re looking to replicate that success a decade later with the PEUGEOT 9X8 Le Mans Hypercar.
PEUGEOT 9X8 Performance Specifications
|Engine||Electric motor-generator + single-speed reducer 2.6 litres V6 twin-turbo mid-engined, longitudinally-mounted 4WD (Peugeot Hybrid4)|
|Transmission||7-speed sequential manual|
|Battery||High density, 900-volt battery co-designed by Peugeot Sport, TotalEnergies/Saft|
|Power||671 bhp (680 PS; 500 kW) (Petrol)
268 bhp (272 PS; 200 kW) (Electric)
Interesting to Look At? Tick.
Ticking the ‘looks’ box is an understatement, we think the PEUGEOT 9X8 embodies one of the purest aesthetics around. The shape draws immediate notice with a feline stance, fluid lines enhanced by signs of sportiness, sleek and structured flanks and characteristic three-clawed luminous signature of the Lions found upfront. These claws, and a number of other elements, light up at night to enhance the visual aspect of the racecar as it laps La Sarthe. Guided by performance, but never allowing it to detract from the looks of the car, a competition was held between designers to find the ideal shape.
“To identify the theme for our future racing car, we first launched a competition between the designers. We received a lot of submissions as this project sparked massive enthusiasm, with the prospect of one day seeing our creation compete against the world’s most prestigious brands on the most mythical of tracks,” said Matthias Hossann,
PEUGEOT Design Director.’
The images, taken here by fashion and supercar photographer Agnieszka Doroszewicz, play with the light and contrast of raw concrete. Almost serving as a metaphor for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a mythical race in which the light changes as the hours go by.
In case we need to reinforce the points again, PEUGEOT has already won at Le Mans with two cars of two different generations: the 905 with a V10 petrol engine in 1992 and 1993, and the 908 with a V12 HDi-FAP engine in 2009. Today, they look to do the same again with a rear-mounted 2.6-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol engine producing 500kW and a front-mounted electric motor developing 200kW through a seven-speed sequential transmission.
“Endurance racing is based on rules that allow us to demonstrate PEUGEOT’s expertise across all-electric power trains,” explains Olivier Jansonnie, Technical Director for the project.
The brand suggests this car will provide a radical break between the previous generations of cars, not the least because of its powertrain, looks or function, but because the PEUGEOT 9X8 is a wingless racecar. Audacious, yes, but if they can pull off a Le Mans win without one it would open a world of eyes to a car that holds onto the most unique of designs. How audacious? The rear wing first appeared in endurance racing at Le Mans in 1967, and since 1971 there hasn’t been a single win without a rear wing. That audacious.
“Our calculations and wind-tunnel work have confirmed the pertinence of our decision to run without a rear wing. Along with the developments and settings this option calls for, we expect it to be validated as we test at different circuits with differing characteristics,” confirms Jansonnie.
So What’s Next for the PEUGEOT 9X8?
The automotive world expects the first official outing for the 9X8 will occur at the Spa 24 Hours on the 4 and 5 June this year. Official sources from the brand remain non-committal with Stellantis motorsport director Jean-Marc Finot confirming in a statement that “The 9X8 will make its race debut based on its level of readiness, reliability and competitiveness as agreed with the championship’s organisers, who we’ll keep regularly updated as our development programme progresses.” We just hope that wingless design prevails, we need more French Cars on the road!