Peugeot‘s now fully revealed FIA World Endurance Championship machine won’t be challenging for race wins for a little while yet, but it’s certainly bagged our imaginary trophy for the most outlandish prototype racer we’ve seen in years.
It’s awash with pleasantly bonkers details including a gaping mouth bridged by Peugeot’s redesigned lion crest and huge claw-like LED lights front and rear. And as you might have noticed, there’s no rear wing - such is the aero efficiency of the ‘9X8’, that it doesn’t need one. Understandably, the French brand’s engineers are remaining tight-lipped as to how they’ve managed this.
The shock value continues inside. Here, Peugeot has clad the cabin in ‘Krptonyte’ acid green fabric, in a nod to the manufacturer’s use of the colour for road cars like the 508 PSE. It’s also claimed that the interior is inspired by the ‘i-Cockpit‘ layout, although we’re not sure we see it.
Underneath all this is a 2.6-litre, 90-degree twin-turbo V6 developing 671bhp and driving the rear wheels. Powering the front axle meanwhile is a motor-generator unit and high-density battery pack, which makes 269bhp. Don’t go thinking this gives the 9X8 a near-1000bhp output - combined power is capped at 671bhp, so when the electric stuff is giving it the full beans, the V6 will be turned down as necessary.
A six-strong driver team spread across the two 9X8 will be made up of Paul di Resta, Kevin Magnussen, Jean-Eric Vergne, Loic Duval, Mikkel Jensen and Gustavo Menezes. James Rossiter will be a back-up driver.
The 9X8 will make its competitive debut in the 2022 WEC season, although Peugeot hasn’t yet publically committed to joining from the opening round. By the sounds of it, the manufacturer may not be joining until a few races in, although we’d have thought the team would be ready for its home race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans at the latest.
The 9X8 be racing against fellow Hypercar (LMh) entrants from Toyota and Scuderia Glickenhaus. Those two are making road-going versions of their LMh creations, but Peugeot won’t be bothering. The rules merely state that should a competitor want to base its racer on a road car, at least 25 examples of the production version need to be made.
From 2023, the 9X8 will have even more competition to worry about, with Ferrari, Porsche and Audi joining the pointy end of endurance racing via the counterpart LMDh (Le Mans Daytona hybrid) regulations.