Bugatti has released a teaser image for what could be a new Le Mans Hypercar racer for the 2021 World Endurance Championship season.
Details are still sparse for the time being, but a recent change to the racing series’s rule book means the French brand could feasibly enter a modified version of the Divo. Bugatti is expected to release more information about the project on Wednesday, and so far has only revealed the number ‘0.67’ as a clue.
The French brand’s official teaser image gives little away about the new model’s design, other than it’s X-shaped tail-lights. However, a spyshots of the prototype at Circuit Paul Ricard in France offer a better look at the race car’s styling.
Like the Le Mans Hypercars in development by other manufacturers, this new mystery Bugatti features an aggressive aerodynamic setup and an enormous stabilisation fin mounted above the engine cover. The scoop on the roof also looks suspiciously like a ram-air induction system, as found on the Lamborghini SCV12, which could be used to generate a little extra power at speed.
It’s likely the new Bugatti prototype will be powered by the same twin-turbocharged 8.0-litre W16 engine fitted to the Chiron and Divo. This makes sense, as the latest Le Mans regulations require the racers to be powered by production engines. However, to be legal in the series, the unit’s output has to be limited to 820kW.
The new Le Mans Hypercar series rulebook also dictates that the only mechanical drive permitted to power the front wheels is an electric motor. Therefore if Bugatti is using its W16 engine in this newcomer, and intends to enter it in the new Hypercar class, the road-going Divo four-wheel-drive system will be ditched for a new rear-wheel-drive setup, possibly supplanted by an electric motor driving the front axle.
Bugatti won Le Mans in 1937 and 1939, but the company’s cars have been absent since 1994, when a private entrant raced an EB110 LM at the 24 hour race. Bugatti owner Volkswagen has a long history of success in the competition with many of its brands, winning the race under the Bentley, Audi and Porsche banner in recent times, but has not entered in the top-tier LMP1 category since 2017, after closing Porsche’s LMP1 programme at the end of the 2017 season.