Peugeot preps for Le Mans

Peugeot preps for Le Mans Peugeot preps for Le Mans Peugeot preps for Le Mans Peugeot preps for Le Mans Peugeot preps for Le Mans Peugeot preps for Le Mans
Peugeot readies its evolved 9X8 ‘Hypercar’ for the 2024 Le Mans 24hrs

Peugeot is getting ready to run its evolved 9X8 ‘Hypercar’ at the 2024 Le Mans 24hrs. It’ll be the second Le Mans outing for what is arguably the most distinctive looking car on the grid.

Distinctive but changed. Although the overall looks of the 9X8 are broadly similar to last year, almost every exterior panel has changed, Peugeot has juggled the tyre sizes and the hybrid system settings, and most importantly, the 9X8 has grown a rear wing, having initially been designed as a wingless ground-effect car.

BOP changes

Will that be enough to make the 9X8 competitive this year? It could be. Last year, the underdeveloped first-generation model led the race for a time, and this year the team could have won the opening World Endurance Championship (WEC) event in Losail, Qatar, but for a last-minute mechanical issue. Better yet, the BOP, or Balance Of Performance changes made for Le Mans, seem to have given Peugeot a boost in terms of both weight and power. BOP is not without its controversy - see the reactions last year when a last-minute Le Mans change seemingly handed Ferrari a major advantage - but generally, it produces close, competitive racing, so we’re not complaining.

To win Le Mans - and it is now 15 years since Peugeot last won here - it will have to get past multiple winners Toyota and Porsche, last year’s winner Ferrari, and strong top-tier entries in the Hypercar class from Cadillac, BMW, Lamborghini, and fellow French team Alpine.

In the DNA

“Le Mans is hardwired in the DNA of the Peugeot brand. The memories and emotions felt at this iconic event stretch across the generations,” said Jean-Marc Finot, Stellantis Motorsport Senior VP, ahead of the race. “The enthusiasm we saw at Le Mans in 2023 showed just how strongly the fans feel about Peugeot. We come back this year more determined than ever. The team has worked tirelessly for over a year in order to make it to the starting grid. This year’s race will be historic in terms of the size and quality of the field. It’s something that is truly unique in the history of racing and the Peugeot brand is incredibly proud to be a part of it! The 24 Hours of Le Mans is a unique human adventure.”

“We are really pleased that we managed to run this car for the first time at Imola,” admitted Olivier Jansonnie, Peugeot Sport Technical Director. “Developing a Hypercar prototype, 90 per cent of which is new in terms of bodywork, aerodynamics and powertrain, in just ten months - with all the production lead-times for parts and tooling - is a genuinely impressive achievement, made possible by the contribution by everyone at Team Peugeot TotalEnergies.”

Tiniest detail

“The in-race handling and performance gains were very much in line with our expectations and what we observed during winter testing,” confirmed Jansonnie. “There is no doubt we still need to improve, however. With around twenty Hypercars on the track, we have seen how close it is in the midfield and how the tiniest detail can make all the difference. At Imola and Spa, we finished ahead of quicker cars by having an excellent strategy and through the hard work of everyone in the team. We maximised the outcome if you look at the performance of the car, even if we didn't really get the result we were hoping for. Historically, Le Mans is a one-off race. There’s the car, of course - its speed and reliability - but it’s also about team preparation, race strategy, etc. Our preparations began in July 2023 after thoroughly debriefing the 91st edition, looking at what worked well, where we could improve and so on. Last year was our first time back at Le Mans in a long time and this year, we'll definitely be better prepared.”

Speaking ahead of the race, Linda Jackson, Chief Executive Officer of the Peugeot brand, said: “Last year, when we returned to Le Mans for the Centenary race, one thing stood out above all else... Peugeot’s fans, our Lions! The atmosphere and the support we felt from the Peugeot Fan Zone was incredible and we’re very grateful for that. It also reminded us that Le Mans is about celebrating and sharing our passion for motorsport and endurance racing with our customers and fans. Team Peugeot TotalEnergies has worked relentlessly to develop the 9X8 2024. We are a united team, determined to perform and stand out. It has been fantastic to see the progress made at the races I have attended since Le Mans last year and especially to see the enthusiasm and excitement about the unveiling of the Peugeot 9X8 2024. Clearly, our aim is to win here, of course, and add a fourth title to this series of victories! It will definitely be a difficult challenge, with a field of 23 Hypercars, new manufacturers and the standard being very high. If there is one thing I have learned about endurance racing over the years, however, it’s that you never know how a race is going to turn out. With our six talented drivers competing in the two Peugeot 9X8 2024 Hypercars, a committed, hard-working team and great support from our fans, anything can happen. It would be an incredible achievement for Peugeot to finish on the top step of the podium. The FIA WEC and the 24 Hours of Le Mans continue to provide a fantastic arena in which to showcase the innovative work that we are doing at Peugeot. We’re proud to be back at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France and I can't wait to share this experience with the fans.”

Ex-F1 stars

Across the two cars, Peugeot is fielding some familiar names, including ex-F1stars Paul Di Resta and Stoffel Vandoorne sharing the No.94 car with Le Mans specialist and 2013 Le Mans 24hrs winner Loic Duval. In the No. 93 car are sports car stars Nico Muller and Mikkel Jensen alongside former Toro Rosso F1 racer Jean-Eric Vergne.

Le Mans testing kicks off this weekend, ahead of the race start on Saturday the 15th of June.

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Published on June 9, 2024