Connect with us

24H Le Mans

Peugeot: 9X8 Upgrade “Right Choice” Despite Dire Le Mans

Peugeot technical boss Olivier Jansonnie defends new 9X8 after lackluster run to 11th and 12th at Le Mans…

Photo: Julien Delfosse/DPPI

Peugeot Sport technical director Olivier Jansonnie insists that coming to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with an entirely new car was the “right choice” despite the French marque’s failure to get either of its cars inside the top ten.

Jansonnie told reporters at Le Mans that he believes that the 2024-spec 9X8, which only made its debut in the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship at Imola in April, was better placed to fight for a result than the version of the car with which it made its return to the top class at La Sarthe last year.

It followed the two Peugeot crews ending up 11th and 12th at the finish, two laps down on the winning Ferrari 499P, and finishing behind Hypercar newcomer Lamborghini, which managed to get its best car into the final points-paying position in 10th.

The previous ‘wingless’ iteration of the 9X8 performed comparatively well on its Le Mans debut in 2023, even enjoying a spell in the lead in mixed conditions.

This time around, both Peugeot crews had dropped off the lead lap by the end of the fifth hour and were unable to mount any kind of recovery despite numerous safety car periods and frequently-changing weather mixing things up at the head of the pack.

Asked by Sportscar365 whether the previous version of the 9X8 may have fared better, Jansonnie replied: “I don’t think so. In any case, it was the right choice to make this car.

“It’s still a bit new and we suffered in terms of set-up and pace, performance, and just learning about this car that is fundamentally very different from the old one. 

“That was set from test day. We knew from there we would not be at the right level of performance. And then we did everything from there to deliver the best possible race. 

“The most positive thing was the reliability; we never had any issue at all, which is very good. Now we can spend more time working on performance and come back stronger next year.”

Jansonnie revealed pre-race that the 9X8 had been struggling through high-speed corners, and he reiterated this weakness post-race as a point for Peugeot to work on.

“We are missing pace at Tertre Rouge and the Porsche Curves compared to the competition,” he said. “That’s what we need to work on.

“It’s basically about understanding how the car works. The high-speed corners here are not something you can experience anywhere else. 

“You have to learn how to give confidence to the drivers as well so they can push the car to the next level of performance.”

Frustrated Vandoorne Not Content to Merely “Participate”

The No. 94 Peugeot shared by Stoffel Vandoorne, Paul di Resta and Loic Duval ended up as the higher-placed of the two 9X8 crews, one place ahead of the sister No. 93 car in which Mikkel Jensen, Jean-Eric Vergne and Nico Mueller shared driving duties.

Looking back on a race to forget, Vandoorne told Sportscar365 that his battle with the lead Lamborghini entry became his “motivation” for the closing part of the race, adding that he cannot be satisfied with Peugeot’s level of performance.

“We just lacked pace in general,” reflected Vandoorne. “We went a lap down quite early on, when it was dry, and we kept hanging in there with the mixed conditions but ultimately we didn’t have the pace. 

“We were fighting to get back into the top 10, we lost it with a pit stop, closed in again… that became my motivation during the race, but ultimately we want to fight higher up.

“I don’t want to come here just to participate. I want to fight it out at the front. We deserve that. But at the moment it seems a little far away. 

“We won’t give up, there were some positive things we showed in this race, but we have to show it much more often.”

Jamie Klein is Sportscar365's Asian editor. Japan-based Klein, who previously worked for Motorsport Network on the Motorsport.cоm and Autosport titles, covers the FIA World Endurance Championship and SUPER GT, among other series.

Click to comment

More in 24H Le Mans