Peugeot is interested in running its 9X8 Le Mans Hypercar in IMSA but this would need to be done through an associated brand that sells cars in North America, according to Jean-Marc Finot who is in charge of motorsport activities at the Stellantis automotive group.
Peugeot revealed its 9X8 four-wheel-drive hybrid LMH car on July 6, while the finalization of convergence terms for the LMH and LMDh top-level prototype formulas came two days later.
Speaking at an in-person unveiling of the 9X8 at Monza on Friday, Finot suggested that a Stellantis involvement in IMSA’s converged top class would not come from Peugeot due to the French brand’s absence from the North American market.
Peugeot has always described its LMH program as an FIA World Endurance Championship venture, while its ‘wingless’ race car has been designed to showcase and influence Peugeot’s electrified road car technologies and styling.
Stellantis was created at the start of 2021 as a merger between Fiat-Chrysler and PSA Group, bringing several notable road car brands under the same structure.
“It would be possible to race in America with the IMSA platform,” said Finot.
“It means that the platform could be important for the brands of Stellantis group racing in IMSA races. We can’t think of it currently because it has not been decided.
He continued: “The usual way of thinking is that if we race in America, it has to be with a brand that we sell in America. We have European brands that are sold in America.
“We have 14 brands. It’s very open. In the U.S. we have Chrysler, Jeep, Ram and Dodge. In Italy we have Fiat, Abarth, Lancia, Alfa Romeo and Maserati.”
The other Stellantis brands are Vauxhall, Opel, Peugeot, Citroen and DS Automobiles. Of the European group, Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Maserati are present in the U.S. market.
Finot suggested that Stellantis would stick to LMH if an IMSA program arose.
Peugeot initially considered LMDh before settling on LMH due to its greater emphasis on bespoke development in terms of car design, hybrid systems and aerodynamics.
Asked if an LMDh program would be considered for a North American-based Stellantis brand’s entry into IMSA, Finot said: “For us it’s more relevant to keep an LMH because the car is already designed. We know it very well.
“All the development costs are already amortized. We don’t think that an operating cost of an LMH will be higher than an LMDh.”
Finot stressed that the news of LMH car eligibility in IMSA is too recent to be met with any program confirmations. Peugeot is readying its 9X8 prototype for a first test in December, while it has yet to confirm when the car will make its race debut next year.
“It’s very fresh,” said Finot. “We [recently] got the information in a press release about convergence between LMH and LMDh.
“Currently we can’t think of that: our activities are focused on the Peugeot program. Our priority is to finish building the team and the car, and to be ready to be on track.”