Peugeot confirm ex-F1 drivers for Hypercar programme

Peugeot has revealed the new 9X8, its Le Mans Hypercar challenger poised to make its competitive debut in the 2022 FIA World Endurance Championship, and also announced a star-studded driver line-up including former Formula 1 drivers Paul de Resta, Kevin Magnussen and Jean-Eric Vergne.

Powered by a hybrid power unit that drives through all-wheel drive transmission, the prototype embodies Peugeot’s Neo-Performance strategy delivering performance to both the brand’s road and racing cars.

The Le Mans Hypercar project allowed the manufacturer’s engineering team and design to work hand in hand, allowing to explore new aerodynamic solutions, such as the absence of the rear wing, and styling ideas thus executing a strong brand identity.

The 9X8 is a successor to the 905, winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1992 and 1993, and the 908, which won the French classic in 2009. The new prototype is poised to continue the make’s long and successful involvement in world-class motorsport with cars that feature strong, instantly recognisable brand identity.

Front view Peugeot 9X8 Le Mans Hypercar

The name of Peugeot’s new Hypercar challenger is the Peugeot 9X8. The “9” continues the series employed by the manufacturer for its recent topflight endurance racing cars, namely the Peugeot 905 and the 908.

The “X” refers to the Peugeot Hypercar’s all-wheel drive technology and hybrid powertrain which embodies the brand’s electrification strategy in the world of motor racing.

The “8” is the suffix used for all of Peugeot’s current model names, from the 208 and 2008 to the 308, 3008, 5008 and the 508 which very recently passed through the hands of the engineers and designers who crafted the Hypercar to become the first car to sport the Peugeot Sport Engineered label.

“The overall lines of the Peugeot 9X8 express the brand’s styling cues, while its sleek, racy, elegant forms inspire emotion and dynamism,” said Peugeot’s Design Director Matthias Hossann.

back view Peugeot 9X8 Le Mans Hypercar-001

Exceptional attention was also paid to the 9X8’s interior. “We wanted to take a special approach to the cockpit which, until now, has tended to be a purely functional and indistinctive aspect of racing cars, with no brand identity whatsoever,” underlines Hossann.

“The combination of our colour scheme and Peugeot’s i-Cockpit interior styling signature have provided the 9X8’s cockpit with a distinctive feel and make it immediately identifiable as a PEUGEOT in on-board camera shots,” he concludes.

The new Le Mans Hypercar regulations were drawn up to level out the importance of conventional performance-boosting systems,” explains Olivier Jansonnie, Peugeot Sport’s WEC Programme Technical Director.

“Designing the 9X8 has been a passionate experience because we had the freedom to invent, innovate and explore off-the-wall ways to optimise the car’s performance, and more especially its aerodynamics. The regulations stipulate that only one adjustable aerodynamic device is permitted, without specifying the rear wing. Our calculation work and simulations revealed that high performance was effectively possible without one.”

top viewPeugeot 9X8 Le Mans Hypercar-002

“The absence of a rear wing on the Peugeot 9X8 is a major innovative step,” says 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!”

“There’s more to Peugeot’s involvement in endurance racing than the sporting aspect,” insists Linda Jackson.

“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 race track 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.”

A pair of Peugeot’s 9X8s will contest next year’s FIA WEC.

cockpit Peugeot 9X8 Le Mans Hypercar-003

In the drivers’ own words…

Paul DI RESTA – Scottish / 35 / former Formula 1 driver / 2010 DTM Champion:

“Everyone wondered what the Hypercars would look like and now they’re here. The 9X8’s aggressive, innovative stance and strong brand identity are a big surprise.”

Loïc DUVAL – French / 39 / 2013 Le Mans 24 Hours winner / 2013 World endurance Champion:

“There are cars that you look at and say they’re nice from the three-quarters front view, say, or from the side, from the front or from the back. The 9X8 looks terrific from every angle!”

Mikkel JENSEN – Danish / 26 / endurance racing driver / 2019 ELMS LMP3 Champion:

“The 9X8’s lines are very different to those that have been unveiled or hinted at in recent months. It will be a historic moment if we succeed in winning with this car because nothing in this style has ever been attempted before.”

Kevin MAGNUSSEN – Danish / 28 / former Formula 1 driver / IMSA endurance racing driver:

“There’s been nothing like it before. It really looks like the future of racing. It’s the first time so much work has gone into a racing car’s actual design. The absence of a rear wing was as a huge surprise. It feels like the beginning of a new era.”

Gustavo MENEZES – American / 26 / World endurance Championship driver / 2016 LMP2 Le Mans 24 Hours winner / 2016 LMP2 World Champion:

“The 9X8 signals the beginning of a new chapter in motor racing. These past 10 or so years have been marked by LMP1 prototypes. It was time to invent an iconic future with the 9X8.”

James ROSSITER – British / 37 / former Formula 1, ALMS and Super GT driver:

“I really wasn’t expecting this much creativity. Its design is really disruptive. PEUGEOT’s Hypercar has pushed the envelope.”

Jean-Eric VERGNE – French / 31 / former Formula 1 driver / two-time Formula E Champion:

“The Peugeot 9X8 is revolutionary. The teams responsible for its design have taken it in a direction that hasn’t been seen in motor racing for a long time. Magnificent!”

PEUGEOT 9X8 LE MANS HYPERCAR – SPEC AND TECH

  • Length: 5,000mm
  • Width: 2,080mm
  • Height: 1,180mm
  • Wheelbase: 3,045mm
  • Powertrain: Peugeot Hybrid4 500KW (all-wheel drive)
  • Rear-drive train: 500kW (680hp), 2.6L twin-turbo, 90-degree V6 petrol internal combustion engine +
  • seven-speed sequential transmission
  • Front-drive train: 200kW electric motor-generator + single-speed reducer
  • Battery: High density, 900-volt battery co-designed by Peugeot Sport, TotalEnergies/Saft
  • Fuel and lubricants: TotalEnergies