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Endurance: Peugeot is making its revolution with a new car to return to the top

It's not quite a clean slate of the past but it still looks a little like it from the outside.

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Endurance: Peugeot is making its revolution with a new car to return to the top

It's not quite a clean slate of the past but it still looks a little like it from the outside. Peugeot unveiled this Monday the new version of the 9X8 which, unlike its surprising and innovative predecessor, will this time be equipped with an imposing spoiler, like all of the competition. A car which should allow the Lion teams to take a leap forward in terms of performance after a very disappointing 2023 season in terms of results: a 5th place in the World Championship and only a small podium, obtained at Monza.

“We started working on this new car in March 2023. The 1000 Miles of Sebring were a trigger because we were far from what we thought in terms of performance,” Olivier Jansonnie, the manager, revealed to Le Figaro. technical director of Peugeot Sport about a 9X8 suffering as soon as the circuits were bumpy, more comfortable when the track was smooth. “We are not starting from scratch because the entire chassis has been preserved even if, by superimposing the two cars, 95% of the surface is different,” slips the manager.

Beyond the rear wing, which is making a comeback and which forced the engineers to thoroughly review the distribution of masses by moving weight to the rear, the 9X8 version 2024 also changed tires (abandonment of the mounting of tires squared 31/31cm, for tires measuring 29cm at the front and 34cm at the rear.) Two determining elements for the performance of the car which was cruelly lacking in top speed and traction when exiting the corners and slow curves in particular.

The Peugeot teams have already carried out two long test sessions with the new version. With what results? “It’s still too early to tell. There is the raw performance on a lap and that in race conditions, but we know the gaps with the competition. There is a very significant gap to fill but we know that we will make up part of it. How high ? We’ll see,” explains Jansonnie.

Questioned by Le Figaro, Jean-Eric Vergne described his first impressions behind the wheel as “good” but the former Formula 1 driver wants to remain cautious. “Driving alone on a circuit has nothing to do with competition weekends,” he warns before adding, “Everyone expects a lot from this car. The past two seasons have been difficult with the 9X8 and that is why this new version is coming. And as we always do something new to do better…”

The two new 9X8s will take on the competition at the Six Hours of Imola on April 21 before continuing their development on May 11 at Spa Francorchamps, in Belgium. Two meetings before the justice of the peace of the season, the 24 Hours of Le Mans (June 15 and 16). Will the team be ready for the Le Mans event with only two races in the engines? “We won't be able to answer this question before Imola and probably Spa, or even before the first tests at the 24 Hours of Le Mans because the profile of this circuit is completely different,” explains Jansonnie.

After a disappointing season, Peugeot will not have the right to fail in the face of fierce competition, Ferrari, Toyota in the lead, and now the Porsche team, impressive during the opening round in Qatar. A new white season could compromise the brand's commitment to the World Championship which is in full swing. “This is not a discussion that we had (with management, Editor’s note). There is no guidance on this sort of thing. The team is very motivated to do better and we feel completely capable of achieving it,” confides Jansonnie who, on the contrary, wants to believe that this new investment is proof of the brand's strong involvement in the discipline. .

“It costs money to develop a car, especially at this level... But what is important is to emphasize that Peugeot is showing that it wants to fight at the highest level and not just places at the end of the classification by taking advantage of a favorable BoP (adjustment of the weight and energy allocated to a relay of cars judged too fast to tighten the performances in a window, Editor's note) or blows in a few races.

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