Thanks to the newly ratified prototype convergence between IMSA, the ACO, and the WEC, Stellantis — the huge global automotive group that encompasses brands including Peugeot, Citroen, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Maserati, Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge — is considering a new American campaign using the underpinning of its 9X8 Hypercar in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
RACER understands the innovative Peugeot LMH is being considered for either a part- or full-time IMSA campaign with Dodge badging. Provided the ambitious interest moves forward to complement Peugeot’s factory WEC LMH program that debuts in 2022, the Dodge version of the 9X8 would have its first opportunity to race at the onset of the 2023 WeatherTech Championship when the LMDh class debuts and LMH models are allowed to race alongside the hybrid prototypes in a single unified class.
Outside of its great history in GT competition, Dodge/Chrysler is no stranger to prototypes, having commissioned a factory LMP1 program which raced at the 24 Hours of Le Mans the early 2000s.
Peugeot Sport unveiled the concept version of its 9×8 racer, set for competition in the FIA World Endurance Championship next year, last week.
The French team took the opportunity of this week’s 6 Hours of Monza to present its car to the media (pictured above), the occasion also the first public opportunity for senior management to reflect on the announcement of full convergence in the rules.
Most significantly, Jean Marc Finot, Senior VP of Stellantis, was keen to emphasize that both Peugeot Sport and the wider Stellantis Group were now in a process of “open discussion” on the potential opportunities that the new rule set would allow.
“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 — there are no conclusions, but there are now open discussions,” he said.
First up is the preparation of the radical new concept. The car features no rear wing, generating its required downforce via the underfloor aero.
“Right now we are entirely focused on the FIA WEC, testing and understanding this car ahead of our debut in 2022,” Finot noted. “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.”