With the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and Peugeot S.A. (PSA) merger to form Stellantis complete, the two companies have started to collaborate its next generation of production vehicles together as we have seen in the recent EV Day 2021 Presentation. But while that presentation explained the benefits of platform sharing for production vehicles, it did not discuss the idea of sharing race car architectures between the two different sides of the company.
In a recent article from RACER, it appears that Stellantis is thinking about letting Dodge//SRT use its new Peugeot 9X8 hypercar to race in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the near future. The Peugeot 9X8, which we recently talked about, will race in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) next year in the Prototype class.
Thanks to a new rules package involving the Prototype class between Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), WEC, and International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) the sectioning body for the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, it would allow the Peugeot Sport engineered 9X8 to be run as a Dodge part- or full-time virtually unchanged.
The Dodge//SRT and Chrysler brands are no stranger to sports car racing. The Dodge (Chrysler) Viper GTS-R dominated the GT2 class in the late-1990s, winning two FIA GT2 Championships, two wins at the 24 Hours of LeMans, a 24 Hours Nürburgring win, and even a 24 Hours at Daytona win. Dodge//SRT would bring the Viper back to competition in 2012, the new car would win the Tudor United SportsCar Championship in 2014 (now known as the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and be disbanded.
In 2001, Chrysler teamed up with Dallara to build an LMP1 (LeMans Prototype) car for competition. The car was called the Chrysler LMP. It was powered by a 6.0-liter V8 and was engineered to take on the growing competition in the class from other automakers like Audi. Going into the 2001 24 Hours of LeMans, there were 3 Chrysler LMP entries.
Shortly into the race, the Chrysler teams realized they were no match for the Audi teams and managed to stay in the top-10 for most of the race. However, one car suffered mechanical issues and a second had a fire, taking all but 1 of the Chrysler entries out of the race. The remaining Chrysler LMP managed to take home a fourth-place finish in its debut, despite finishing 23 laps behind the winning Audi. After the performance, Chrysler pulled out of the Prototype class.
The car, however, would go on to be developed as the Dallara SP1 without a Chrysler engine.
During a media conference just prior to last week’s 6 Hours of Monza race, the Peugeot Sport team including Jean-Marc Finot, Senior VP of Stellantis, discussed the announcement of the new rules package for the Prototype racers. Finot also mentioned that Stellantis was now in an “open discussion” about a possibility for other Stellantis brands to run the car as their own.
“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.
“Right now we are entirely focused on the FIA WEC, testing and understanding this car ahead of our debut in 2022,” Finot stated. “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.”
It appears that we will have to wait till after the car makes its racing debut next year, for Stellantis’ official announcement to allow the Dodge//SRT brand to campaign the car in North America. Nevertheless, it should be good news for Dodge//SRT motorsports fans.