Peugeot's WEC hypercar could make track debut this month
Peugeot's new 9X8 Le Mans Hypercar contender could run on a race circuit before the end of December.
The French manufacturer has hinted that the new four-wheel-drive prototype that will race in the 2022 FIA World Endurance Championship will begin testing in earnest this month in the wake of the release of a photograph last weekend of the car undergoing its roll-out.
"We have a lot of tests planned, but we cannot say where or when — but development is starting now," a spokeswoman told Motorsport.com.
Asked if those tests would begin in January, she replied: "Or December. There are 31 days in December."
Peugeot, winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours on three occasions, posted a photo of the 9X8 undergoing a shakedown on its Twitter account on Saturday evening (pictured top).
No details of the run have been released by Peugeot, except that it took place at a proving ground and that one of the seven drivers signed for its 2022 WEC campaign was at the wheel.
She described the location as "a confidential track somewhere" but did not confirm when the run took place.
The spokeswomen explained that Peugeot believed it was important to show the car had turned a wheel for the first time and that it had hit its target of running before the end of the year.
"We wanted to share this information because at this time with COVID it is very difficult to remain on schedule," she said.
The photograph of the 9X8 released by Peugeot has been modified so that it is impossible to see whether the car is running a conventional rear wing.
There was no rear wing on the car in the first images released in early July and on subsequent appearances by a show car or mock-up at the Monza and Le Mans 24 Hours WEC rounds.
But the photo from the roll-out clearly shows aerodynamic appendages either side of the blanked-out area that weren't present on the show car.
When asked whether these are part of a full-width rear wing, the spokeswoman said: "Does it have a rear wing or not? Now you want to know the answer."
Olivier Jansonnie, technical director of the WEC programme at Peugeot Sport, said in July there was only a "small possibility" that there would be a need for wholesale revisions to the radical aerodynamics ahead of the race debut of the car.
The Peugeot Sport design team under Jansonnie has been able to exploit freedoms in the LMH rulebook to do away with a rear wing. The new rules are much less prescriptive than the old LMP1 regulations and lay down target windows for downforce and drag into which each car must fit.
Peugeot set out the target of running its new car by the end of this year when it confirmed its LMH programme in September 2020 and has steadfastly stuck to it ever since.
The in-house Peugeot Sport team is scheduled to make a decision on when the car will begin racing during the early months of next year as development of the car progresses. It has so far only committed to giving the 9X8 a race debut some time over the course of the 2022 WEC season.
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