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Le Mans 24 Hours of Le Mans

Fixed "major top speed issue" will help Peugeot at Le Mans

Peugeot Sport drivers are relieved that the revamped 9X8 has better top speed than its wingless predecessor, which should help them overtake backmarkers in the Le Mans 24 Hours race.

#94 Peugeot Totalenergies Peugeot 9X8: Stoffel Vandoorne, Paul Di Resta, Loic Duval

After racing the wingless 9X8 during its first season back in the World Endurance Championship and the opening round of the 2024 campaign in Qatar, Peugeot introduced a new version of its car from the Imola 6 Hours onwards.

Despite now featuring a wing, the machine produces less drag and has better top speed as a consequence, which #93 entry driver Jean-Eric Vergne says will be instrumental in traffic at Circuit de la Sarthe, when it comes to overtaking slower LMP2 and GT3 cars.

"The most important point will be raceability", Vergne said. "Last year, we had a major top-speed issue. We were unable to overtake, and it was really quite tricky.

"This year, we seem to have fixed the issue. That's the main point, the most important thing – because even if you're fast and you're stuck behind a car that's two seconds slower but 10 km/h faster on straights, you can't do anything."

Vergne's #93 partner Nico Muller reached a top speed of 343.4 km/h during the Test Day – which only Isotta Fraschini bettered – giving Peugeot a margin of 16.6 km/h on the fastest LMP2 car.

"In traffic, it's definitely a big help," Muller confirmed. "When you have these last two, three km/h extra that just allow you to make one more position before turning into, for example, the Porsche corners, it can actually have a big impact."

Loic Duval, who is one of the #94 drivers, admitted: "For sure, for the race itself, to overtake the competition – I'm referring to GTs – we've made a real gain in this area, which probably is hard to understand for the average person watching from the outside.

Photo by: Marc Fleury

"You'd think a wingless car goes faster on a straight than a wing-equipped car. But we have less drag and manage to go faster now. For sure that's a plus, that's a quality, especially on the Le Mans circuit.

However, Vergne was keen to point out that the new car was "not a revolution", with Muller adding that "lap times are not mainly made in straight lines, it's more in cornering. So there, we still have room for improvement, obviously."

The faster #94 Peugeot ended the Test Day in 13th position, 2.4 seconds off the lead Porsche.

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