Ahead of the 2020 Le Mans 24 Hours, Peugeot has revealed three concept design sketches and some basic technical details for its new Le Mans Hypercar that’ll race at La Sarthe in 2022.
According to Peugeot, its all-new Le Mans hypercar will have 680PS (500kW) and be four-wheel-drive, with power courtesy of a petrol-electric hybrid powertrain. As per the new Le Mans Hypercar regulations, the electric motor will offer a maximum of 272PS (200kW) at the front axle, with the rear axle powered by an as-yet-unknown petrol engine.
Peugeot Sport’s technical director of the WEC programme Olivier Jansonnie has rightly pointed out that the new car will be heavier than the current LMP1 cars, as well as longer and wider, but because of how balance of performance rules will level out the category there’s “room for many technical possibilities in our development, specifically on the general shape, as long as a certain overall aerodynamic efficiency is not exceeded.”
“To this date,” Jansonnie explains, “we have confirmed part of the aerodynamic concept, the engine framework has been decided and we have chosen the functionality of the hybrid system and its fundamental design. We still have several steps left before our debut in endurance in 2022, in studies, the production of prototypes and finally, affirmation on the bench and on the track.”
Peugeot has won at Le Mans three times before, in 1992 and 1993 with the 905 Evo 1B, and then again in 2009 with the 908 HDi FAP. But why has it waited until now to return? In short, the rules make building a Le Mans Hypercar a far less expensive venture than building a LMP1 car, and, as Peugeot’s CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato says: “We are coming back to endurance racing because we have the opportunity to work the sport in a different way, with the hybridization of gas and electricity.”
Peugeot is developing its next generation of sporty road cars and the first is the Peugeot Sport Engineered 508, a four-wheel-drive, 360PS hybrid. So a Hypercar project acts as the perfect platform to further develop the Peugeot Sport Engineered brand.
Moreover, as Peugeot’s design director Matthias Hossmann explains, “the new Le Mans Hypercar category offers an unprecedented and historical opportunity for sports and design teams to collaborate.
“The look of the vehicles will no longer only be the result of the wind tunnel sessions, we will have a dedicated space to create a unique, iconic product, combining performance and expressiveness. We intend to make the most of the wiggle room offered and we are very excited about this project!” Essentially there’s enough flexibility in the regulations for the road cars and the race cars to look similar in a way that wasn’t possible with LMP1.
There might not be much to go on yet, but we’re getting pretty excited about Le Mans in 2022…