If you’re a motor vehicle manufacturer, like Peugeot, then one of the things on your bucket list is to be responsible for getting your team’s name on the Le Mans trophy (we assume). The 24-hour endurance race demands the absolute best in every regard from speed, endurance, aerodynamics and fuel efficiency from a car and this time Peugeot hopes to achieve a win with their new hybrid – the 9X8.
Peugeot is hungry for the W
It last achieved a win in 2009 with its 908 Prototype, beating German rivals Audi who was poised to win its sixth straight race. Audi then went on to win the next five years but Peugeot showed the world that it can be done.
The hybrid 9X8 will look to compete in the newly revised Le Mans Hybrid (LMH) category. The revised category will replace the LMP1 category, which gave rise to some of the most technologically advanced race cars we’ve ever seen.
That category gave manufacturers almost complete freedom to design and build the very best prototype cars they could muster, but it came at a price. A price so large that most manufacturers couldn’t justify spending millions and so the entries declined. This year will see only five entries.
The LMH class is an attempt to rejuvenate the interest of manufacturers as it allows either competition-spec versions of existing hypercars or specially designed prototypes and it looks like it’s worked. Other than Peugeot’s 9X8, Toyota revealed its new GR010 and we might even see Ferrari re-enter the race with its own hypercar.
The 9X8’s rear wheels will be powered by a 670 hp (500kW) 2.6 L, 90-degree turbocharged V6 internal combustion engine, while a 268 hp (200 kW) electric motor drawing its juice from a 900 V battery will turn the front wheels. Peugeot will need to implement some clever engineering to make those engines work together and not exceed the category’s 670hp power limit, but then that’s the whole point.
Olivier Jansonnie, technical director of the 9X8 program, says “Designing the 9X8 has been a passionate experience because we had the freedom to invent, innovate and explore off-the-wall ways to optimize [sic] the car’s performance, and more especially its aerodynamics.”
This time around Peugeot will be looking to dethrone Toyota Gazoo Racing from their three-year winning streak (probably a four-year streak
if when they win in August of this year). Either way, it’ll be exciting to see some competition at the top level again.