The Peugeot 9X8 could be heading to America - as a Dodge!
It would be taking advantage of the ruling that LMH cars can compete in IMSA from 2023
You may remember that a little bit ago I wrote about a new ruling that had been agreed upon that LMH-class cars would be able to race in IMSA's WeatherTech Sports Car Championship from 2023. This is part of an agreed convergence between IMSA, the ACO and the WEC regarding the top class of endurance racing. The top tier of endurance racing will now be represented by two new classes (LMH and LMDh) that will be put under balance of performance regulations to make sure that there's as much parity as possible between them. I had written that I expected new manufacturers to be tempted into the LMH class and I guess I had called something right, as there are now reports that Dodge will be entering the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship under LMH regulations in 2023!
The potential return of Dodge to endurance racing (the brand had previously commissioned a factory LMP1 programme that raced at Le Mans in the early '00s) is apparently under serious consideration by the brand's owner Stellantis. It would use a rebadged version of the Peugeot 9X8 Hypercar that'll start racing in the WEC next year. The 9X8 has already drawn a lot of attention due to its bold and innovative design, part of which involves scrapping the typical rear wing in favour of a different method of creating rear downforce from using underfloor aero.
It's likely that the Dodge version would be almost identical to the Peugeot design that we've already seen, just with Dodge branding all over it instead of Peugeot branding and maybe some more Dodge-appropriate styling cues as well. The Peugeot version is already one of the most exciting looking racing cars I've seen in years, so I can only imagine how cool a more Dodge-appropriate version would look as well!
"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," said Jean Marc Finot, Senior VP of Stellantis, when asked about the potential of sending the 9X8 to race in the US. "There are no conclusions, but there are now open discussions."
"Right now we are entirely focused on the FIA WEC, testing and understanding this car ahead of our debut in 2022," he continued. "We will race when we have both the performance and reliability that we want to have confidence in finalizing the homologation. After that we will have the homologation locked in for several years, so it is important to present the very best car we can before taking that step.
"The program’s progress will determine whether we will commit to Le Mans in 2022. I hope we can be there, but the key is the longer view and the ultimate competitiveness of the car."