Peugeot would consider switching from Le Mans Hypercar to an LMDh program depending on the outcome of the latter’s forthcoming technical regulations announcement, according to PSA Motorsport director Jean-Marc Finot.
The French manufacturer announced last November that it would be entering the FIA World Endurance Championship with a hybrid-powered Hypercar, although the sports car racing landscape has changed dramatically since then.
January’s confirmation of an accord between WEC organizer the ACO and IMSA to create the LMDh common platform has led to a reconsideration from Peugeot.
LMDh would still enable Peugeot to compete in the WEC but with an externally-supplied base chassis and a series of other common parts, rather than bespoke elements.
Finot told Sportscar365 that development work has started on the original Hypercar project but Peugeot is now waiting for more technical details on LMDh before committing either way.
These details are set to be presented by the ACO and IMSA technical teams during the ‘Super Sebring’ weekend on Mar. 18-21.
“Currently, our project is on the Hypercar regulations, but we are looking at LMDh which could be interesting,” said Finot.
“There are, of course, some conditions for us to [commit to] these regulations.
“First of all, it’s important to have equity in the Balance of Performance, so it’s mandatory to have the same aerodynamics, weight and power on both sets of regulations.
“Of course, we will choose in this frame the regulation for which we have the best chance of winning, as we are competitors. After, we will look at marketing efficiency and costs.”
Finot suggested that Peugeot, under certain terms, would be willing to accept the LMDh formula’s cornerstone principle of a shared hybrid system between marques.
“It’s not an issue for us if the components are designed by one of our suppliers or designers,” he said. “What we want is to make the powertrain manageable.
“Even if components are on the shelf or proposed by IMSA, it’s not an issue.
“For a car manufacturer, the main thing is not to develop the finer electronics. It’s to ensure the powertrain management and to optimize the efficiency of the powertrain.”
However, Finot also highlighted the importance of electric and hybrid technology to the Peugeot brand.
Peugeot has a growing presence in the electric vehicle road car market with two full EVs and three plug-in hybrid cars in its current product portfolio.
It even developed a hybrid version of its 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning 908 LMP1 car but the project was abandoned before the start of the 2012 WEC season.
“Our strategy for Peugeot Sport is the energy transition from a pure ICE to electrified vehicles,” said Finot.
“Our proposal is to demonstrate that low emission vehicles can still offer the fun and pleasure of driving. We will do that with the Peugeot Sport engineering line.
“In another iconic way of demonstrating this, we have decided to do a hybrid for the [sports car] program.
“In this way, it’s not mandatory for us to develop all components but it’s mandatory to demonstrate how, as on the road car, we are able to manage the control-command of the electrified powertrain.”
The eligibility of LMDh cars in both the WEC and IMSA does not appear to be central to Peugeot’s decision between the common platform and Le Mans Hypercar.
Even following January’s convergence announcement, the manufacturer has continually referred to its venture as a WEC program.
“It would be interesting to race in America but it’s not a topic that will form our decision [on Hypercar or LMDh],” explained Finot.
“Our decision will be made on the equity of the Balance of Performance and marketing efficiency.
“It could be an opportunity, but currently it’s not in the frame of our program. If possible, it would be welcome, but it’s not a way of making our decision.”