Duval aware Peugeot won't match Toyota from the outset

Loic Duval is under no illusions about the scale of challenge Peugeot faces on its return to FIA World Endurance Championship competition in 2022, admitting it won’t be able to match Toyota’s speed from the outset.

Peugeot will enter the WEC's top division with the 9X8 Le Mans Hypercar, ending a decade-long absence from top-flight endurance racing after its previous 908 LMP1 programme came to a premature end in early 2012.

The new breed of LMH cars may be slower and less complex than their predecessors but they come with their own set of technical challenges, with Toyota coming close to suffering an embarrassing defeat at the Le Mans 24 Hours this year due to fuel pressure issues with both of its GR010 Hybrids.

Duval therefore believes Peugeot will have a tough time being as competitive as Toyota in its first season with the 9X8 next year, stressing that it is up against a rival that has a wealth of experience building championship-winning prototypes.

“When you see Toyota, they have the experience for the last few years, even though it's a new car, the hybrid system and stuff like that, they have a lot of knowledge, so it always takes time to reach reliability,” 2013 Le Mans winner Duval told Motorsport.com in Bahrain last month.

“You also have to find performance because performance and reliability don't really match together, so it's always difficult.

“It's tough to be able to perform as good or even better than Toyota and have reliability straight away. If it was that easy a lot of people would come onboard and straight away will be there.

"This is always difficult and you cannot target that from the beginning. It always takes time, which is normal. We'll have surprises also. For sure, finding issues that you don't expect and that's part of developing a car.”

Peugeot 9X8

Peugeot 9X8

Photo by: Peugeot Sport

Peugeot recently revealed an image of the 9X8 testing at an undisclosed location with a modified back end (above), having previously been confident that it would be able to race the car without a rear wing.

It's unclear if this could delay the start of the Peugeot's WEC programme next year, with the French manufacturer having previously stated that it would make the call regarding when within the 2022 season it joins the field after its initial tests with the 9X8.

Duval says he would like to see Peugeot make its first appearance at Le Mans since 2011 next season, but feels the decision would hinge on how far developed the car is by the middle of the year.

“It always depends upon how the car is born, how the car performs from the beginning, how much development you have to do, it's difficult to say for sure,” said Duval.

“It would be great to have the car at Le Mans for next year and I think it's always the target for manufacturers to be at Le Mans. But you also have to make sure your car is at the level that you want, so for the moment I don't know what's in the pipeline.

“For sure everybody is trying to be as soon as possible on track to race, but you never know until you start the development how long it is going to take.”

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