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WEC Monza

Peugeot: WEC podium target still “difficult” despite Le Mans progress

Peugeot admits it still faces an uphill battle to achieve its target of World Endurance Championship podium finishes despite its race-leading performance at the Le Mans 24 Hours.

#94 Peugeot Totalenergies Peugeot 9X8 of Loic Duval, Gustavo Menezes, Nico Muller

Last month’s double-points round of the WEC at Le Mans was described as “a turning point” for the Peugeot 9X8 Le Mans Hypercar programme by its technical director Olivier Jansonnie straight after the race.

But Jansonnie stressed ahead of the post-Le Mans resumption of the WEC at Monza this weekend that the 9X8 still lacks the consistent pace of its rivals in the Hypercar class.

“Podiums are the target for us; we are clearly working on that, but it will be difficult considering the level of the opposition,” he said.

“I think we showed at Le Mans that on some occasions and in some specific conditions we are able to fight with the top guys.

“We showed that we are able to fight at that level for some hours of the race with the #94 car [driven by Gustavo Menezes, Loic Duval and Nico Muller], but it could have been the other car as well.

“We are not in the position performance-wise where we can say that if we do the perfect race we will for sure be on the podium.

“But if we can do a perfect race strategy-wise and reliability-wise, we think we can fight for a podium.”

Jansonnie conceded that over the second half of the race at Le Mans the 9X8 was “missing a bit of pace” to its rivals.

“It was a very complicated race for the first eight to 10 hours with the weather and different strategies,” he said.

“In that little game we came out quite well and managed to keep the car at the front.

#94 Peugeot Totalenergies Peugeot 9X8 of Loic Duval, Gustavo Menezes, Nico Muller

#94 Peugeot Totalenergies Peugeot 9X8 of Loic Duval, Gustavo Menezes, Nico Muller

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

“Considering pace we had in free practice and quali we were quite happy with the pace we had in the race, the race stints, and the tyre wear and degradation.

“We were a little bit better than expected, but you could see by the end that we were missing some pace.”

Jansonnie would not discuss what effect the changes to the Balance of Performance in Hypercar for the second half of the 2023 WEC will have on Peugeot’s chances of making the podium.

Manufacturers, teams and drivers are precluded from speaking about the BoP in the series sporting regulations.

Peugeot team organisation improving

The in-house Peugeot Sport team that runs the 9X8s is an increasingly well-honed organisation, according to Jansonnie.

“There are a lot of things we improved on at Le Mans, especially in terms of the preparation of the race and we want to use that in the next events,” he said.

“Race by race we are getting into a routine, which allows us to spend more time developing the car and improving the performance.”

Monza is the first track at which the 9X8 is racing for the second time, as Peugeot joined the WEC at this race last year.

Jansonnie stressed that will be important as it strives to make forward steps.

“We have a bit more reference now,” he explained.

“You are never sorted on set-up, but I would say we are not as far away as when we arrived last year.”

Peugeot’s best results with the 9X8 so far are a trio of fourth places in each of its three WEC starts in 2022 when there were no more than six Hypercar entries.

This year the car has finished no better than fifth, recorded by #94 at Portimao in April, against increased opposition in Hypercar.

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