MOTORSPORT

The Peugeot 9X8 is wingless and ready to roll

The radical Peugeot 9X8 will take to the stage at the FIA World Endurance Championship opener at Monza.

TopGear Reporter
May 25, 2022
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The Peugeot 9X8 is wingless and ready to roll

Endurance racing has always been the ideal stage to showcase new technologies. From the LED headlights to the KERS system, prove any piece of tech over 24 hours and it’s good to go in any other format – especially garden-variety road cars. 

So, the wingless approach by Peugeot with the 9X8 hybrid has my interest tweaked. How are they doing it? How will they adjust downforce settings on certain tracks that demand different setups? I have so many questions… Joining Peugeot Sport at the virtual unveiling from behind my desk, I’ll try and pierce through the IP veil. 

“prove any piece of tech over 24 hours and it’s good to go in any other format – especially garden-variety road cars”

Strikingly without wings

Peugeot 9X8
Form following function doesn't mean it can't be breathtakingly beautiful.

The design is strikingly gorgeous, something you need to bite your fist for and just gawk. The French do know a thing or two about making a race car look pretty but with racing, it’s always function over form and that function comes in the undressing of the outer panels. 

Gargantuan power figures

In terms of the drivetrain and power unit, the Peugeot 9X8 is a four-wheel-drive hybrid prototype in line with the new hypercar class that replaced the morbidly expensive LMP1 class. Every component is original to Peugeot Sport. Its rear wheels are driven by a 2.6-litre, bi-turbo, 520 kW, V6 internal-combustion engine. The front wheels are driven by a high-performance 200 kW electric motor. Like the motor, the silicon carbide-based inverter was developed in association with Marelli. The car's high-voltage, the 900-Volt battery was developed jointly with Total Energies/Saft thus keeping it local.

Over-regulated LMP1

One can thank the rule changes in ELMS for the new hypercar class which allows for carte blanche on the design of the aerodynamic package. There are, however, still certain rules around things like drag co-efficient versus the old LMP1 class which was heavily regulated. Although not much has been said about the aero package, one can suspect that a lot is going on underneath the car that is going to drive downforce and, in the process, validate the lack of a rear wing. Along with the new rules stating that only one downforce-related part of the car can be changed (either the front or rear), this design is starting to make more sense.

Even though the car will not be competing at the 24hours of Le Mans, we’re excited to see the 9X8 join the field in other endurance races to come. With the hypercar Class LMH/LMDh in ELMS that’s drumming up so much hype, with more than 10 manufacturers signing up, this will certainly be worth the wait. Could the 9X8 repeat history like the 905 and 908 FDI FAP having won Le Mans overall? We can only wait and see. The first race will be the Six Hours of Monza on 10 July.

PS… Not sure why Nandos hasn’t jumped on this one yet. Missed opportunities...

Words: Brent Van Der Schyff

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