Peugeot and Total today announced that they will begin work together on developing a Le Mans Hypercar (LMH) project that has been made possible by part of the new Balance of Power (BoP) regulations set to apply in 2022.
The new hypercar rules have been crafted with an eye toward with cost-cutting, with a season’s budget anticipated to be limited to around $24 million. Manufacturers can choose between developing a bespoke racer or modifying a road-going hypercar for race use. FIA’s category regulations dictate that each competitor in the hypercar class must produce “at least 25 engines identical to the ones destined for a series production car homologated for road use equipped with this engine.” As a result, 25 identical series-production cars for road use with the engine must be produced by the end of 2022.
Peugeot’s World Endurance Championship (WEC) car uses a hybrid four-wheel-drive system for a total output of 670 hp. The front-mounted motor sends 268 hp through the front axle, with the rest coming from a motor of an as-yet undisclosed output. The new regulations will mean that the new car will be heavier than the current top-tier of WEC racers, the LMP1 class, although it is unknown how much heavier. It will be longer (up to 16 feet) and wider (up to 6.5 feet) as well.
Oliver Jansonnie, technical director of Peugeot Sport WEC, says the new BoP rule “certainly sets limits, but also allows room for any technical possibilities in our development, specifically on the general shape, as long as a certain overall aerodynamic efficiency is not exceeded.
“We have confirmed part of the aerodynamic concept,” continues Jansonnie. “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 before our debut in endurance in 2022: in studies, the production of prototypes and finally, affirmation on the bench and on the track.”
“These sketches are the first design drafts intended to help us identify the important segments on which we should focus on,” said Matthias Hossann, Peugeot design director. “The three claw marks and the colors are symbols that we wish to produce on our hypercar. Our signature found in the light impressions are part of the strong identity emblems present on our production vehicles and that we wish to reproduce in the race.”
Peugeot has enjoyed some success at Le Mans, and dominated the races in 1992 and 1993 at the end of the Group C era with its 905 car. From 2007 to 2011, it battled with Audi and won in 2009 with its diesel-powered 908 HDi FAP sports prototype.
The upcoming LMH is not Peugeot’s first attempt at a hybrid. Peugeot was working on a hybrid version of the 908 when it decided to put an end to the program in 2011. Since then, there have been rumblings that Peugeot would returns to Le Mans, but only if the rules were changed to lower costs. It would seem that the stars have so aligned. Whether Peugeot can return to its winning ways remains to be seen until 2022.