Peugeot has seen success at the highest level at events like the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but the confirmation that it will be joining the World Endurance Championship’s newly founded hypercar class wasn’t a given. The marque took its time evaluating its options—especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic—and has only barely selected the hypercar as its 2022 make.
When we roll into the 2022 season, WEC will look much different than it does right now. In an attempt to remain at the forefront of technological innovation, with two new rule sets for prototypes: Le Mans Hypercar and Le Mans Daytona h—or LMH and LMDh, respectively.
If you haven’t heard much about the differences between these two classes, let us lay it down for you. Basically, LMH is the replacement for the current LMP1 class, which represents the pinnacle of WEC engineering. LMDh, on the other hand, blends the technology from WEC’s LMP2 and IMSA’s DPi machines so that the cars will be able to compete at both the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. IMSA has noted that it is interested in the LMH class competing in its calendar as well, but that’s a conversation for a later date.
It’s an interesting way to encourage cross-series participation and development, but whether it works or not will remain to be seen. Several manufacturers have confirmed their involvement in LMH. No manufacturer has yet to confirm involvement in LMDh—and the debut of that class in IMSA has been delayed until 2023.
From a technical perspective, the hypercars will have a minimum weight of 1030kg (or 2270.7 pounds), 500 kW (670 hp) of combined power from a hybrid power system, a single tire supplier, and one bodywork package. The LMDh class will be based off a common “spine” that is composed of the bodywork, engine, and hybrid system. This class will be cost-capped, and only mainstream auto manufacturers can join in.
Ultimately, Peugeot is opting for LMH because of the technical challenge it poses. From an interview with Peugeot CEO CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato in Sportscar365:
In terms of values for Peugeot, I had a hard time to imagine any other decision than the more demanding one, in terms of technical challenge.
Our history is made around motorsport… In this scope I cannot write the chapter the story of this brand without being in the most demanding [platform].
We can glean some of the initial details about what the Peugeot car will look like courtesy of Olivier Jansonnie, technical director of the Peugeot Sport WEC program, as reported in RACER:
The car will be 4-wheel drive, equipped—as required by the regulations—with an electric motor and a maximum power of 200 kW on the front axle. The total power level will be identical to that of a 100% thermal 2-wheel drive car—500kW or approx. 680hp—that will be distributed between the two axles. In comparison with what we currently know in LMP1, the car will be heavier so as to be compatible with road vehicles. It will also be longer and wider.
This regulation is also different because it incorporates a performance balance. It certainly sets limits, but also allows room for many technical possibilities in our development, specifically on the general shape, as long as a certain overall aerodynamic efficiency is not exceeded. This will be measured in a 1:1 scale wind tunnel and which will be part of the BOP.
How the rest of the grid shapes up remains to be seen, but with manufacturers like Peugeot, Toyota, and potentially still Aston Martin, we could see a lot of interesting development on this front.