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Peugeot in the tough, the Alpine thinning, how are the Blues one month before the 24 Hours of Le Mans?

The Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps marked by a Porsche double (with the No.

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Peugeot in the tough, the Alpine thinning, how are the Blues one month before the 24 Hours of Le Mans?

The Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps marked by a Porsche double (with the No. 12 of the Hertz Jota private team and the No. 6 of Penske Motorsport Porsche) ahead of two Ferraris at the end of another very spectacular race, allowed the World Endurance Championship teams to sharpen their weapons before the 24 Hours of Le Mans (June 15-16), the peak of the season.

A meeting attended by 88,180 spectators which made it possible to identify two big favorites for the Le Mans race: first Porsche, then Ferrari, which will defend its crown dearly in a month. A German-Italian duel is looming in Sarthe even if we must not put aside Toyota, (6th and 7th), winner (surprise) at Imola three weeks ago, but behind in Belgium on Saturday.

Once again, Alpine and Peugeot failed to get involved in the fight for victory. Alpine achieved an encouraging 9th place with the No. 35 Hypercar (the other car finished 12th) demonstrating that the French manufacturer, now 4th in the World Championship standings, is progressing slowly but surely in the hierarchy. The 7th place in qualifying acquired on Friday confirms the potential of the A424 of the No. 35. “We are still learning, but we wanted to have a better view and understanding of our car and its operation. The objective was achieved with a good performance in testing and in the race, with our two Hypercars at the finish and fighting a little more with the competition,” rejoiced team boss Philippe Sinault, a little reassured. “It was an interesting race, with a much better pace than at Imola,” confirms Nicolas Lapierre, 12th with the No. 36.

If the brand with the arrow A left the Toboggan des Ardennes with a smile on its face, the troops of the Peugeot team returned to their headquarters at Satory with their heads full of doubts. Starting 13th and 15th, the two Lionesses reached the finish in 9th (n°93 of Jensen and Muller) and 14th (n°94 of Di Resta and Duval) places. The latter accumulated problems by being forced to pit after a hybrid system problem at the start. A puncture to the left rear tire then weighed down the ambitions of the crew, often hit by bad luck since the start of the season.

“It was a complicated race in terms of pace but we already knew that from the free practice sessions. We did our best,” explained Olivier Jansonnie, technical director concerned at the end of the race. The new version of the 9X8, in competition since the Six Hours of Imola three weeks ago, did not provide the hoped-for leap forward in terms of performance. “The car worked well, we understand it better now, it’s a big step forward. We have a lot of data to analyze for Le Mans,” driver Nico Müller tries to be positive.

Reactions not necessarily encouraging in view of Le Mans but last year, Peugeot demonstrated that the atypical route of the Sarthe had better suited its Hypercars leading the event until the night. The 24 Hours of Le Mans remains a race apart, where anything is possible. “The team is well prepared and we need to have the same dynamic as at Le Mans last year. The countdown is on,” Paul Di Resta wants to believe.

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