Sitting low on the asphalt on its 18-inch wheels, the RCZ Peugeot Sport is an open invitation to fire up its 250-horsepower engine and take to the track! Based closely on the brand’s emblematic coupe of the same name, the model’s customer competition variant will begin its motor racing career next year within the framework of single-make championships to be run in several countries. The RCZ benefits from the immense experience of motorsport Peugeot Sport has forged over a period of more than 30 years to deliver an unrivalled quality/performance package for its price. Like its road-going counterpart, the racing version most certainly comes under the ‘premium car’ heading, if only because of its expressive styling, carefully-appointed cockpit and the pedigree technologies that have been employed for its mechanicals. The RCZ Peugeot Sport targets all saloon car racers, from battle-hardened campaigners, who will be able to fine-tune their set-ups thanks to the car’s data logging equipment, to the sport’s gentlemen drivers who will savour the driving enjoyment delivered by the 1.6 THP powerplant’s generous torque. Every one of them will be won over by precision of the RCZ Peugeot Sport’s chassis, paddle gearshifts and powerful brakes… While engineering its latest high-end racecar, Peugeot Sport was careful to dial in low competing costs from a very early stage. For a pre-VAT price of €54,900, the RCZ Peugeot Sport is delivered ‘tested’ and ‘ready-to-race’. The budget required for a complete season (seven meetings) is also kept to a minimum thanks to the sealing of mechanical assemblies, maximum quotas for tyres and the availability of prize-money.
THE CONCEPT: PACKED WITH PEUGEOT SPORT EXPERTISE
The production of a ‘premium’ customer-competition car for saloon racing is something new at Peugeot and stemmed from the launch of the RCZ. The combination of this model’s sculptural, innovative styling and its 1.6 THP engine provided a first class base for the development of a high-end racing version.
To ensure total coherence with the production version, the RCZ Peugeot Sport retains the original’s styling hallmarks, from its bonnet and double-bubble roofline to the polished aluminium arches which contribute to the car’s contemporary, sporting stance. In addition, the race version stands out through bespoke features such as the adjustable rear wing, exterior mirrors and cockpit-cooling roof vent.
Engineering work on the RCZ Peugeot Sport began in spring 2010 and the car turned a wheel for the first time at Satory in August the same year. To optimise performance and reliability, the car will not make its competition debut until the start of 2012 following an intensive development programme which included wind-tunnel work and running at seven different circuits. Indeed, a single RCZ Peugeot Sport clocked up more than 8,000km at circuits of varying profiles, from the abrasive asphalt of Dijon and the technically-demanding corners of Val de Vienne, in France, to the heat of Circuito de Navarra, Spain, while the different test drivers had complementary driving styles.
COCKPIT: EXTREMELY PAMPERED DRIVERS
In addition to the RCZ Peugeot Sport’s technical credentials, its drivers have been particularly pampered, too. Strapped into their HANS®-compatible bucket seat thanks to six-point harness belts, they can easily access the centre console which houses the different controls and the rear brake pressure regulator. Meanwhile, the perfectly visible colour screen displays all the information needed for precise, efficient driving.
On the track, the first thing that impresses about the car is the smooth, linear acceleration ensured by its 250hp 1.6 THP engine which delivers peak torque of 290Nm. High torque is available from the very low revs to provide powerful re-acceleration out of the tightest turns.
The steering wheel-mounted gearshift paddles permit ultra-quick gear changes, while the electronic gearshift control system means that drivers do not need to use the clutch.
The RCZ Peugeot Sport’s cornering performance is equally impressive thanks to its nicely balanced chassis and efficient, reassuring handling. The absence of a brake servo allows drivers to profit fully from the stopping power of its 355mm-diameter front discs and six-pot callipers.
Ambitious racers and gentleman drivers alike will appreciate how reassuringly easy it is for them to familiarise themselves with the RCZ Peugeot Sport which allows a sufficiently broad spectrum of set-up possibilities to suit all driving styles.
A CAREFULLY-ENGINEERED TECHNICAL PACKAGE
The RCZ Peugeot Sport is based on the production version, the monocoque body shell of which has been fitted with a welded roll-cage for driver safety and to rigidify the chassis. The bonnet conceals a tuned 1.6 THP which features an optimised air intake system, a new turbocharger and specific conrods and pistons. It drives through a race-developed six-speed sequential gearbox. The majority of the suspension parts are carried over from the production version, while the dampers are made specifically by Peugeot Sport. In addition to ensuring low running costs, this mix of production parts and specific racing components guarantees an outstanding trade-off between performance and reliability.
Engine, gearbox and electronic management
The transversally mounted, four-cylinder, 1,600cc EP6CDTm block employs specific racing pistons and conrods. Other parts, like the crankshaft, flywheel, camshafts and valves, are standard, as are the cylinder head and throttle butterfly. Air is fed to the specific air box via a scoop located in the centre of the grille, while the Borg Warner turbocharger is cooled by the original intercooler which has been fitted above the bespoke water radiator. The production exhaust manifold has been extended by a 70mm-diameter line in order to achieve a flattering engine pitch. All engines are run-in, sealed and bench-tested before going in the cars.
The Sadev-developed sequential six-speed gearbox incorporates a limited slip differential. Two steering wheel-mounted paddles activate the hydraulic gear selector for extremely fast gearshifts and outstanding long-term reliability.
The electronic management system uses a Magneti-Marelli SRT unit which comes with a chassis and engine data-logging system. The specific wiring loom is controlled by a centre console-mounted power box which incorporates all the controls. The RCZ Peugeot Sport is delivered complete with Wintax data analysis software.
Chassis, suspension and running gear
All soundproofing has been removed, and the steel monocoque body shell is fitted with a welded roll-cage – with links notably to the upper suspension mountings – for enhanced driver safety and to rigidify the chassis. The shell itself has also been modified to accommodate three quick-lift hoists and the adjustable rear wing pylon.
The MacPherson-type front suspension arrangement complete with anti-roll bar is chiefly based on production components, while the Peugeot Sport-developed dampers permit a range of settings (ride height, camber, toe). The original steering rack has been modified and the car is equipped with power steering. At the rear, the original trailing arms attach to a flexible beam, while the spring/damper assemblies are also specific for competition use. RCZ Peugeot Sport sits on hard-compound 25-64R18 slicks fitted to one-piece wheels.
Work aimed at lightening the chassis has resulted in a kerb weight for the RCZ Peugeot Sport of just 1,070kg, a saving of 250kg over the production version of the car.
The RCZ Peugeot Sport’s durable, precise, high-performance braking is one of the principal contributors to the car’s active safety, and the absence of a servo favours precise, consistent feedback from the pedal. The vented 355mmx28mm front discs are equipped with six-piston callipers, while the solid 290mmx12mm rear discs are the same as those fitted to the production RCZ. The front/rear brake bias can be adjusted thanks to a proportioning valve which acts on the rear brakes to prevent the car’s wheels from locking under heavy braking.
In addition to the crumple-zone structures which are a feature of the production model, the RCZ Peugeot Sport comes with the necessary passive safety equipment required for circuit racing, including a multipoint welded roll-cage, a HANS®-compatible bucket seat, a six-point harness belt, a fire extinguisher and a battery cut-off switch.