The 2021 World Endurance Championship will see a new breed of hybrid Le Mans Hypercars tackle some of the most arduous races in the world, including the 1000 Miles of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Toyota’s Gazoo Racing and Peugeot Sport are the two big brand entries, while privateers ByKolles Racing and Glickenhaus are also set to take part in the new formula. Based on the technical details provided by Peugeot the regulations for racing are far from simple.
The Peugeot 508 racer is powered by a system it calls Hybrid4. A mid-mounted twin-turbo 2.6-liter V-6 sends 680 hp to the rear wheels through a seven-speed sequential robotized transmission, and a 272-hp motor-generator delivers its power to the front wheels while also harnessing energy under braking. The battery pack will be fully charged before racing and then use this regeneration to top up throughout a race. Simple so far, no?
Where it all gets very complicated is with the series Balance of Performance rules that cap overall power to 680 hp and restrict the use of electrical energy. Under 75 mph the cars must drive under internal combustion power alone, but after that the electrical oomph can be added up to that 272 hp, so the combustion engine gets its power turned down to compensate. Then, when the batteries are empty the wick is turned right up to 680 hp again. In fact it’s actually allowed to peak at 700 hp in order to send some power back into the battery.
As the car switches between combustion and hybrid power it also switches between rear-drive and all-wheel drive, which could certainly make any wet races rather interesting.
Peugeot’s system is still under development, and not expected to begin testing until late 2021, so the French company will miss the inaugural season which begins in March 2021.
Roadgoing versions of the Le Mans Hypercars will have to go on sale within two years of their competition debut in order to meet the rules, and Toyota has already shown its GR Super Sports model, which should begin to reach customers in 2023.