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Peugeot: Reliability will dictate when Hypercar will race

Peugeot has suggested that the reliability of its new Le Mans Hypercar in testing will dictate when during the 2022 FIA World Endurance Championship season it will make its race debut.

The French marque's new hybrid-powered contender is not due to run for the first time until the end of next year ahead of its race debut at some point in 2022.

Peugeot pushed back the first test of its LMH car from next summer as a result of the delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it insists that it is still far away from deciding exactly when the car will make its first race outing.

That means it remains unclear if the manufacturer will be contending for a fourth victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours as early as 2022 or whether it will wait until the centenary race in '23.

Olivier Jansonnie, director of the WEC programme at Peugeot Sport, said: "We are not close to making that decision; we are not even ready to decide internally on this. 

"We have built a schedule that will allow us to test by the end of 2021 and from that point on we should know relatively quickly the level of reliability of the car. 

"We don't want to take the risk of starting races before we achieve the right level of reliability."

Peugeot unveiled key technical details of the new LMH prototype on Monday, including the specification of its internal combustion engine, but its press statement did not reveal the vee angle of the 2.6-litre twin-turbo V6.

Director of powertrain development at Peugeot Sport, Francois Coudrain explained that Peugeot was not ready to communicate this, saying: "We don't want to give too much detail in terms of the organic design."

Coudrain confirmed, however, that the powertrain will be a bespoke racing engine developed in-house at Peugeot Sport. 

The engine is scheduled to run on the dyno for the first time in the spring and will then begin running in conjunction with the LMH Peugeot's electric motor generator unit on a four-wheel-drive test bench early in the summer.

The complete powertrain has been called the Peugeot Hybrid4 500kW in reference to its total power output, which equates to 680bhp.

Peugeot has yet to announced a name for the car, but hinted that it could follow the nomenclature of the Le Mans-winning 905 and 908 Group C and LMP1 prototypes.

"Starting with a nine seems to be a good idea, but we will be back at the start of 2022 to be more precise," said Jean-Marc Finot, motorsport boss of Peugeot parent company PSA.

Peugeot will "take its time" on deciding drivers

Finot also emphasised that there is no need to rush to decide on its driver line-up, even though Peugeot previously indicated it has already started the decision-making process.

"There are a lot of drivers interested in this iconic Peugeot Sport programme and we are in touch with many of them," said Finot. "I would just say that we have time because the car will not run until the end of 2021, so we will take our time to have the best team possible. 

"We will chose our drivers for their performance, their team spirit and how they fit the Peugeot Sport mindset."

Finot did not respond when questioned on whether Romain Grosjean was one of those drivers after the outgoing Haas racer declared his interest in a Peugeot WEC seat in October. 

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