Surprisingly, the aerodynamic choice of the lion brand sheds light on the regulations of the Le Mans Hypercar category at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
First unveiled at a distance in early July, the Peugeot 9X8 was physically present in the Monza paddock on the occasion of the last round of the WEC before the 2021 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Proof if it were necessary that the pure and simple absence of rear wing on the tricolor hypercar was not a “fake news”, but a reality. As a preamble to these few lines partially explaining this daring choice, let us nevertheless specify that the future frame of Loïc Duval and others is still presented at this stage in the form of a very advanced concept and not in its final version or livery.
Already proven through computer simulation and then in a wind tunnel according to Olivier Jansonnie, Technical Director of the team, this solution would not be just a “publicity” aimed at getting the lion to talk about the brand even before its launch. return to the highest level of endurance in 2022. To refer to the rules allows to be convinced a minimum of it.
With the aim of contributing to the reduction of costs, the cars of the Le Mans Hypercar category, unlike the LMP1s in recent years, do not rely on two, but on a single body kit for the entire season, whatever the profile of the route (fast or winding). However, the texts require in particular that this unique kit respects a very precise aerodynamic window; downforce to drag ratio of 4: 1.
Let us briefly recall what these two notions of fluid mechanics consist of. The first is the force applied to the car vertically (preferably towards the ground). And it is most often obtained at the cost of the second, that which opposes the advancement of the vehicle in the air. What good is it in this case to generate a lot of downforce if the rule forces to increase the drag accordingly?
Furthermore, the ACO is keen to ensure that the chronometric objective of 3’30 on the lap at Le Mans is respected, no more no less. An LMH more efficient than the others, in particular thanks to its aero, would then be exposed to the performance balance (BoP) tending to reduce the difference between the different forces involved.
Unlike the arms race, Peugeot is therefore obviously choosing a kind of aerodynamic “decrease”. Which could pay off in terms of top speed and energy consumption, these two criteria are not negligible at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This is perhaps a first indication of the priorities of the French brand between a general victory in the Sarthe and a title of world endurance champion …
The alternative to the rear spoiler is probably hidden under the car. It would then be up to the diffuser alone to generate a large part of the ground effect. To achieve this, the 9X8 extractor does indeed seem generously sized and very open when released. And while that still holds true at this stage of speculation, it could spring up well in front of the rear wheels to speed up the airflow and engender some form of suction.
According to this first draft made public of the LMH of the lion, the exhaust gases the V6 2.6 biturbo, the true heart of the hybrid chain, are spat out on the surface of the engine cover to also play the role of flow accelerator at the stern of the car.
A little more patience before full-scale tests. The 9X8 is expected to hit the track for the first time by the end of this year 2021 in the best case.
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