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Lequien: Peugeot Must Contest Sebring or Spa for Le Mans Entry

WEC CEO says Peugeot 9X8 needs to contest a race before Le Mans for BoP purposes…

Image: Peugeot

Peugeot is required to enter a race before the 24 Hours of Le Mans to guarantee its place on the grid for the French classic, according to FIA World Endurance Championship CEO Frederic Lequien.

Peugeot has yet to announce when its in-development 9X8 prototype will debut in the WEC’s top Hypercar class, but the manufacturer is facing a tight homologation schedule for a car that only conducted its first rollout test last month.

Lequien said after the publication of a 39-car entry list for the new season that if Peugeot is to enter Le Mans, it will need to show up for a race beforehand. This would likely be the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa, which takes place five weeks before the 24-hour enduro.

The season is due to start at the 1000 Miles of Sebring in mid-March before heading to Spa-Francorchamps in early May.

Both Peugeot 9X8s are on the preliminary entry list subject to the car completing its homologation process.

“They must race one event before,” said Lequien. “So we expect to have them at Spa-Francorchamps.

“I am not working for Peugeot, so it would be better to ask them directly if they will be ready for Sebring.

“I think it’s going to be very difficult to be in Sebring, very difficult. I’m not sure that we will see them at Sebring, but after, yes. But I am not working for them.”

Lequien added that Peugeot’s requirement to enter at least one race before Le Mans is necessary for Balance of Performance purposes.

The Peugeot 9X8 will be going up against the Toyota GR010 Hybrid and non-hybrid entries from Glickenhaus and Alpine Elf Team at the biggest race of the year which carries double points for the world championship.

“We need to see the car racing before doing Le Mans,” said Lequien.

“It’s just a question of BoP and to analyze to get some data and so on. So it’s a question of sport. It’s not commercial.”

Sportscar365 has contacted Peugeot for clarification on the race debut of its four-wheel-drive hybrid LMH car.

The most recent update from the company came near the end of last year when it revealed a teaser image during a rollout test that pointed towards a modified rear end.

Lequien Comments on ByKolles Rejection

Responding to questions about the refusal of ByKolles Racing’s application for a WEC entry with an LMH car entered under the Vanwall name, Lequien said that the Austrian-flagged, Germany-based manufacturer did not meet all of the selection committee’s criteria.

Sportscar365 revealed the rejection of the ByKolles application on Tuesday, with senior figures from the organization indicating that the decision might have been related to the car’s homologation.

It now appears that the rejection is not related to the car’s technical homologation, but that other conditions of the WEC selection committee’s requirements were not met.

It is unclear precisely what section of the entry procedure led to the ByKolles effort being refused, with the former LMP1 constructor searching for answers to ensure its car gets accepted in the future. A capacity grid means that no one-off entries will be allowed this year.

The selection committee, which is formed of ACO and FIA members, requires prospective entrants to meet certain conditions such as the entry fee and licensing requirements, all of which are to be presented in an application dossier.

Additionally, prospective Hypercar entrants must prove their association with an existing automotive brand.

ByKolles attempted to do this by entering under the name of Vanwall, a Formula 1 title-winning constructor from the 1950s. The Vanwall name is trademarked by the PMC GmbH company under which the ByKolles automotive projects are housed.

“We have a selection committee based on different criteria,” commented Lequien.

“The selection committee have decided that we do not have the necessary criteria to keep this entry.

“I can’t give more explanation on this. It is a decision [from] the selection committee.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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