Peugeot will leverage expertise from within Groupe PSA — including its DS Automobiles arm for electric motor technology — for its upcoming Le Mans Hypercar program according to senior-level staff.
The French manufacturer, which confirmed in September that will build its car to the LMH regulations, has begun powertrain development on the yet-to-be-named prototype for a 2022 debut in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Peugeot Brand CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato explained they have been leaning on all departments within the group, including engineers from its ABB FIA Formula E Championship program with DS Techeetah.
“All of the guys are bringing their own experience to the brand,” Imparato told Sportscar365. “There is one core motorsport [department] in PSA that is supporting each and everyone.
“The guys from DS at the moment are working on the electrification the program. Some guys are coming from WRC were guys working on the 908.
“The interesting point is that the whole team is pushing around within the experience of the global operation. We are all one team pushing.
“We are starting something serious with Peugeot and in three or four years it will be around performance and endurance.”
Peugeot has yet to reveal technical details of the car other than confirming that it will employ a four-wheel drive configuration — similar to Toyota’s new LMH car — that will utilize a front axle-mounted electric motor with a maximum output of 200 kW.
Peugeot Sport WEC technical director Olivier Jansonnie added: “We are not scared at the amount of resource and development of LMH because we have knowledge and experience from other programs within PSA including Formula E.
“What we have to optimize is how much synergy we can generate from the other racing programs within PSA Motorsport.
“You can have people working on different programs. Whether it’s people or IP or experience or whatever, there already is some transfer.
“It’s something we have in place already and it’s one of the key things and a very important and positive point.
“Part of the job was technical but we also had a very big part in also trying to set up an organization that’s capable of taking on this challenge.
“We started gathering all [the staff] we could find within PSA motorsport direction but also within the PSA Groupe.
“Our chief engineer on the powertrain side is the ex Peugeot 908 engine department manager.
“Building the team was the first objectives at the beginning of the year.
“The thing from the beginning that was not properly estimated in terms of difficulty was really, properly understanding the regulations.”
LMH Regs Provide “Completely New” Approach
Jansonnie, who previously worked with the Peugeot 908 program as the R&D manager and most recently held a position at Ligier Automotive, said the LMH regs have created a brand-new approach to top-level endurance racing.
“The LMP1 regulations as it was 12-15 years ago, it wasn’t hybrid at the time,” he said. “It wasn’t based on energy efficiency as it is now.
“The continuation of [LMP1] is ending now. And that’s something that’s appealing as everything we’re doing in terms of mindset, we feel is very different.”
The initial COVID-19 lockdown in the spring came at a “pretty lucky” period in the program’s development, according to Jansonnie, as much of the staff were able to work remotely as the project had still been in the early design phases.
He indicated it would have been “very different” if it had come when needing to build the car, which is slated to begin on-track testing at the end of next year.
“Our target is pretty clear,” said Jansonnie. “We expect to have an engine approved on the dyno in 2021 and our powertrain complete between the summer and autumn and then testing by the end of 2021.
“The plan is to build a car for testing at the end of 2021.”
Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report