Peugeot 9×8 ready for its first competitive close-up in July

Peugeot is ready with the 9×8 Hybrid Hypercar it will race in the World Endurance Championship racer starting this July. When the French automaker showed its novel design last year, the marquee feature was the lack of a feature: There was no rear wing, only the lip of a ducktail-like spoiler along the trailing edge. Data from more than 6,000 miles in 25 days of testing this year at Aragon, Paul Ricard, Magny-Cours, Barcelona and Portimao circuits required altering the aft quarters slightly. Strakes atop the rear fenders are a touch longer than before, each sprouting a winglet and endplate. The result will still be unlike anything else on the track that we’ve seen so far, unless Cadillac follows through with its likewise wingless LMDh car.

Peugeot says high rear wings first showed at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1967, which refers to the Chaparral 2F that had a driver adjustable high wing. The last time a car without a high wing won the day-long race in the French countryside was 1971, when current Red Bull F1 advisor Helmut Marko and Gijs van Lennep drove a Porsche 917 to the checkered flag. Peugeot won the race in 1992 and 1993 by going with the winged crowd in the V10-powered Peugeot 905 and again in 2009 with the diesel-V12-powered 908 HDi-FAP.

The 9×8 is powered by a 2.6-liter twin-turbo V6 behind the driver that sends 671 horsepower through a seven-speed sequential gearbox to the rear axle. A 268-hp electric motor-generator turns the front axle. The racer’s first display won’t make use of any of that gumption, though, as Peugeot is taking the Kryptonite-colored car to next month’s 24 Hours of Le Mans as a static display only. The first competitive test takes place the month after, at the 6 Hours of Monza in Italy on July 10. From now until then, Peugeot Sport plans more testing, including the car’s first 6-hour run in race conditions. Two cars are planned for the Italian campaign, where they’ll go up against the grandfathered Alpine LMP1 car, and hypercars from Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus and Toyota. Driver pairings haven’t been sorted yet, but the six-man team consists of Loic Duval, Mikkel Jensen, Gustavo Menezes, Paul di Resta, Jean-Eric Vergne, and late addition James Rossiter, who replaces Haas F1 driver Kevin Magnussen. 

The team says it’s going to Italy to compete for the win, not to use the event as a testing session or merely parade. The plan is to contest the final two rounds, the 6 Hours of Fuji and 8 Hours of Bahrain, before getting into the proper testing for next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. Sometime between now and then, we should see the road-going version of the 9×8, series rules requiring hypercar entries to put 20 models up for sale to the public.

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