Peugeot’s 9X8 prototype is one of the many reasons the forthcoming era of Le Mans Hypercars and LMDh machines has sports car racing fans so excited. The smorgasbord of brands that is Stellantis will have a proper car to potentially win the world’s greatest endurance races, against the likes of Ferrari, Toyota, BMW and Porsche. That’s a good table to have a seat at.
Last week, the FIA, ACO and IMSA all came to an agreement to allow Le Mans Hypercars — the World Endurance Championship’s top category — to compete in performance-balanced fashion alongside LMDh cars in IMSA. Now that either class can compete in either series, groups like Stellantis have a new opportunity available to them, to run cars like the 9X8 in the U.S.
Of course, that wouldn’t make a ton of sense from a marketing perspective, considering Peugeots aren’t sold on this side of the pond. However, Dodges are. And with that in mind, Racer has reported that Stellantis is already ruminating on running the 9X8 as a Dodge in America, to contest races like the 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring.
With such an effort, IMSA would have its first LMH entry, in addition to the LMDh campaigns already planned from Audi, Porsche, Acura and BMW. And that’s exciting! Ridiculous to think about, because the last time Dodge did sports car racing, the program lasted 20 minutes even though it was extremely successful — but still, welcome news nonetheless.
Here’s how Jean Marc Finot, Stellantis senior vice president, explained the potential cross-branding opportunity ahead of this weekend’s 6 Hours of Monza:
“While we only heard this confirmed a week ago it certainly has led to some very open discussion, not only about whether Peugeot might add races in the United States, but also about whether the ‘spine’ of this car might have opportunities with other brands in the Stellantis Group — there are no conclusions, but there are now open discussions.”
As for how the car might look, Racer reports that “the Peugeot LMH is being considered for either a part- or full-time IMSA campaign with Dodge badging.” The “badging” detail suggests Dodge’s version might not look a whole lot different from Peugeot’s, and probably won’t be as radical as the super-slippery SRT Tomahawk Vision Gran Turismo at the top of this post. (Not that regulations would allow it, anyway.)
It’s also reported that while Peugeot is still eyeing a Le Mans 2022 debut for the 9X8, that all depends on “the program’s progress” over the coming year. If the French team doesn’t like its odds next summer, it may push back participation until 2023. That would rob us of the Toyota-versus-Peugeot battle endurance racing could so desperately use right now, though at least there’s consolation knowing things will heat up either way in 2023.