Peugeot happy to prove speed of new hypercar on Monza WEC debut

Peugeot believes it proved the pace of its new 9X8 Le Mans Hypercar over the closing stages of its debut in last weekend’s Monza round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

#94 Peugeot Totalenergies Peugeot 9X8 of Loic Duval, Gustavo Menezes, James Rossiter

One of its new prototypes retired early from the race and the other finished 25 laps in arrears of the winning Alpine, but Peugeot was encouraged by the lap times from Loic Duval in the surviving #94 car at the end. 

Oliver Jansonnie, who leads the LMH programme at Peugeot Sport, said: “If you look at our last stint, it appears that we are competitive.

“The most important thing is that we have shown the performance is there. When the car is running without any trouble, I think we can compete.”

Jansonnie pointed out that the homologation rules for LMH restrict performance developments to just five so-called ‘evo jokers” over the life cycle of the car. 

“With these homologation rules, if you start with a car that is not competitive, it is very difficult to come back,” he explained. “So this is a big relief for us.”

#93 Peugeot Totalenergies Peugeot 9X8 of Paul Di Resta, Mikkel Jensen, Jean-Eric Vergne

#93 Peugeot Totalenergies Peugeot 9X8 of Paul Di Resta, Mikkel Jensen, Jean-Eric Vergne

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Duval, who shared the #94 Peugeot with Gustavo Menezes and James Rossiter, set the fastest lap of the race for one of the 9X8s during his final run. 

The Frenchman’s average lap time was within half a second of the other cars in the Hypercar class on track at that point of the six hours. 

The #94 Peugeot made the finish in 33rd pace after two stops of approximately 20 minutes each to overcome overheating issues. 

Jansonnie explained that the overheating of the powertrain was caused by debris collecting in the cooling ducts. 

“We are learning about racing in traffic with debris flying around; it is a new experience for us and this is exactly why we are coming to learn,” he said. 

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Peugeot has completed move than 15,000km with its development chassis since January, but all the testing was undertaken with the car running on its own. 

The car had to come into the pits, said Jansonnie, “for cleaning and cooling everything down”. 

Jansonnie was unwilling to elaborate on the problem that put out the sister car shared by Paul di Resta, Jean-Eric Vergne and Mikkel Jensen. 

What he described as an “overall car systems” issue was linked to the problem that prevented Jensen from setting a representative lap time in qualifying, he revealed. 

“We had had some issues in qualifying already, which we thought we had cured, but in the end we had only partially cured,” he explained.

“It is probably several issues at the same time and we don’t have the full picture of what happened yet.”

He confirmed that there was a turbo boost problem, adding “we don’t know if that is the issue or a consequence of another issue”.

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The car started by Jensen from the back of the grid came into the pits for what turned out to be a stop of nearly an hour just 30 minutes into the race. 

Di Resta subsequently completed more than 30 laps before a second long stop, after which Vergne did one lap before the car was retired. 

Jansonnie said that the most important thing at Monza was for the in-house Peugeot Sport team to gain experience as it builds up towards a full WEC campaign in 2023. 

“It was a hard race for us; we came here to learn and I think we learnt a lot,” he said. 

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