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“It’s so exciting to develop a rallycross engine!”

“It’s so exciting to develop a rallycross engine!”


Four questions to Mehdi El Fassi (PEUGEOT 208 WRX Engine Project Manager)

What is your job at Peugeot Sport?

I am in charge of the engine project and I work in association with Oreca. I decide the guidelines for the engine’s design, covering criteria like performance, the turbocharger, the block and pistons, the compression ratio, etc. Oreca then designs and makes the parts and assembles the engines. Regarding testing, I contribute to the mapping and software development. At races, I am in charge of performance, establishing the best set-up for starts and optimising the mapping depending on the track’s profile. Again, this is done in association with Oreca.


Rallycross permits engines that develop around 600 horsepower. Is this exciting for an engineer?

Yes, it is! First of all, the regulations give us more freedom than many other disciplines. It‘s not a homologated engine, so we are free to make developments all-season long. We have a wide field of exploration, but we use fewer electronics. It’s quite challenging because it’s more difficult to keep a high level of reliability with such a powerful engine. And it’s more difficult to transmit this power to the ground. So we need both a high level of performance and good drivability to enable the driver to control the car through the slower sections or in case of grip changes. Rallycross also means working at a more human scale in the project compared to other disciplines, so I can have a global view of the engine and transmission system. It’s very rewarding.


What are the key factors for a rallycross engine?

It’s a very powerful engine but it needs to be drivable at race starts when the problem is controlling wheel spin, since traction control systems are prohibited. It’s good to have a small amount of wheel spin but you need to avoid stalling. It’s very tricky! There’s a lot of work involved in terms of engineering and mapping to prepare a good start.


How did you come to Peugeot Sport?

After obtaining a science-based baccalaureate, I went to Polythechnique School and then to the Ecole Nationale des Petroles et Moteurs in 2002, an engineering school which specialises in engines. Ever since I was a kid, I have been a big motorsport fan and passionate about engines because mixing physics, combustion, fluid dynamics, mechanical engineering, etc. is very complex. I really wanted to attend this school! I started working in motorsport in Formula 3, with Sodemo. After that, for family reasons, I worked for Peugeot’s research department on the road car side before switching to Peugeot Sport in 2011. First of all, I did calculations work for the Le Mans project before getting a chance to show what I could do in a variety of fields. I now work on both the cross-country rally and rallycross programmes.