Peugeot is set to miss this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans as it focuses on completing the pre-homologation development and testing of its hybrid-powered Le Mans Hypercar.
The French manufacturer announced on Friday that the Peugeot 9X8 will not be ready to race at the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa in May, and in turn “forecasts” that it will not be on the grid at Le Mans in June.
Entering the race at Spa is necessary to achieve a Balance of Performance baseline for the Peugeot 9X8, which will compete in the Hypercar category.
FIA World Endurance Championship CEO Frederic Lequien spoke last month of the need for Peugeot to enter an event before the 24-hour race, which Peugeot has also recognized as a necessary part of the car’s competitive introduction.
In late January, Peugeot declared its absence from the grid at the 1000 Miles of Sebring season-opener.
The 9X8 has tested at Aragon and Paul Ricard so far, with further outings expected to come during the spring and summer as the engineering team works toward the car’s homologation sign-off.
Homologation is required for an LMH car to race in the WEC. Homologations are fixed until 2025 and can only be adjusted if the manufacturer opts for an ‘Evo’ joker.
Explaining the reason for the team’s decision to forgo Le Mans, Peugeot WEC technical director Olivier Jansonnie said: “Quite simply, this will afford us the time we need to achieve the necessary level of reliability.
“For obvious reasons with regard to Balance Of Performance adjustments, it would not have been possible to enter the Le Mans 24 Hours without first contesting the preceding WEC race – the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on May 7.
“This way, our planning will enable us to put the full weight of our teams and resources behind our own test sessions, without the disruption of racing at Spa-Francorchamps and Le Mans.
“Both operationally and from a reliability perspective, Le Mans is the most difficult race on the calendar.
“We will begin with some shorter races, which will allow us to progressively get up-to-speed in the championship. Like with our road-going cars when we have to choose between meeting a deadline or focussing on quality, we always prioritize quality.”
The next WEC race after Le Mans is the fourth round of the season at Monza in mid-July.
In lieu of competing at Le Mans against the likes of Toyota, Alpine and Glickenhaus, Peugeot plans to “build anticipation and excitement” for the 9X8’s debut later in the year by setting up “surprises” for spectators during the event.
Jansonnie explained that the process of finalizing an LMH homologation consists of a “series of milestones” that need to be met.
“Its schedule and execution are very precisely defined,” he said.
“The process concludes with the submission of a homologation file – describing in minute detail all of the vehicle’s components (with photos and weight measurements) – as well as a wind tunnel test of its aerodynamics and an inspection of the vehicle by the FIA [and] ACO.
“After this, its development is ‘frozen’. Its performance parameters are subsequently assessed in order to be able to adjust its power, weight and minimum speed of hybrid energy deployment, which are the key factors in Balance Of Performance.
“A manufacturer judges that its car is ready to be homologated when it believes it has attained the required level of performance and reliability to be eligible for ‘Balance Of Performance’ evaluation: that is to say that it has the same theoretical chance of winning in the WEC and at the Le Mans 24 Hours as any of its competitors.
“It accepts from this point that its vehicle will not be able to undergo any further major technical changes until the end of the homologation cycle.”
Peugeot is planning to run two cars in the WEC under the No. 93 and No. 94 designations.