Peugeot has finally revealed the Hypercar racer that will be competing in the World Endurance Championship from next season.
Called 9X8, it is considered a direct successor to the 905, which won the Le Mans 24-hour race in 1992 and 1993, and the 908, which won in 2009.
Despite providing the inspiration for the new car, the 9X8 is a world away from its predecessors mechanically. It has a hybrid powertrain, combining a rear-mounted 2.6-litre V6 petrol engine making 661bhp to an electric motor producing 264bhp.
Peugeot says the battery is still in development but will be a ‘technologically sophisticated’ unit with a 900v output – the highest currently seen in an electric road car is the Porsche Taycan’s 800v system.
One interesting quirk that has not been explained in depth yet is the lack of a rear wing. Performance cars tend to use spoilers and wings to manipulate the air travelling over the car and push it into the ground to improve grip.
However, the 9X8 has a clean rear end, with the message ‘We didn’t want a rear wing” in subtle lettering. Although these wings help to improve cornering speeds, they also create drag, which lowers the car’s top speed, making their design a balancing act.
Jean-Marc Finot, motorsport director for Peugeot’s parent company Stellantis, said the team has “achieved a degree of aerodynamic efficiency that allows us to do away with this feature,” and joked that people shouldn’t ask how they achieved this.
However, it’s likely related to ground effects, which involves manipulating the air travelling beneath the car to create downforce while minimising drag.
Linda Jackson, Peugeot CEO, said: “There’s more to Peugeot’s involvement in endurance racing than the sporting aspect.
“Endurance racing is a form of motorsport that provides us with an extreme laboratory, which explains why our association with Le Mans is so strong. More significant perhaps than the results we obtain on the racetrack are the opportunities it provides to prove our technology and the fruit of our research work in a race that throws extreme conditions at you for 24 hours.
“Le Mans gives us a competitive environment to validate the hybrid systems and technologies we are currently developing to reduce the fuel consumption – and therefore CO2 emissions – of our road cars. The teams at Peugeot Sport are proud when they see their research carried over to our production models. For our customers, Le Mans is a laboratory that testifies to the quality of our cars.”