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Peugeot Seeking to “Maximize Every Session” at Second Race

Peugeot set for Fuji after ‘continuing to work’ on problems encountered during Monza debut…

Photo: MPS Agency

Peugeot is aiming to “maximize every session” during the second FIA World Endurance Championship outing for its new LMH car at Fuji Speedway this weekend.

The French manufacturer gave the hybrid-powered Peugeot 9X8 its race debut in July’s 6 Hours of Monza and is now set for its first overseas appearance in Japan.

Technical director Olivier Jansonnie declared that Peugeot’s aim for the 6 Hours of Fuji is to make the most of the available track time as it adapts to a track that is new for the car.

It comes after Peugeot “learned a lot” through experiencing various teething issues at Monza, including a stoppage that prevented the No. 93 car from setting any lap times in qualifying, which subsequently consigned it to the back of the grid.

Only the No. 94 machine, which had limited running in the first practice session, finished the race in Italy.

Both cars spent extended time in their pit garages to solve different gremlins including debris-induced overheating on the No. 94 and a turbo-related problem on the No. 93.

Peugeot has tested twice since its Hypercar debut in an attempt to address the issues, while its race cars have been prepared in France and flown out for the Fuji race.

“In Japan, we will be discovering the circuit for the first time, so we need to make sure we maximize every on-track session from Friday morning through to Sunday afternoon,” said Jansonnie.

“We collected a great deal of information about the car and team [at Monza].

“We also ran into a few problems that we hadn’t previously encountered in testing, some of which we were able to rectify on-site, others that we have been continuing to work on since Monza. This is a tried-and-tested process in motorsport.

“At this early stage, it should be noted that we are concentrating more on reliability and performance than on refining race strategies.

“That is perfectly normal for such a new project, up against rivals with – in some cases – more than 10 years experience in the discipline.

“We are all fiercely competitive here at Team Peugeot TotalEnergies and we recognize that both the car and team have scope for significant improvement, but we have yet to come across any issues that we cannot resolve, so that’s very positive.”

Jean-Eric Vergne, who shares the No. 93 car with Paul di Resta and Mikkel Jensen, believes that Peugeot is in the “right ballpark” in terms of outright performance despite its early WEC outings being primarily about exploring the limits of the vehicle’s reliability.

“Monza could have gone better for us, but that was entirely to be expected at such an early stage of an ambitious project like this,” said the Frenchman.

“Our car ran into problems in the race that led to our retirement. During the run that I completed in Free Practice, though, we were close to the Toyota in terms of pure pace, which proves that we are in the right ballpark with this non-conventional car.

“I’m completely convinced about that. Our first race was another significant milestone on this exciting journey and now, for Fuji, the goalposts shift again. But that’s what keeps the adrenalin flowing!”

Gustavo Menezes, who drives the No. 94 car, added that Peugeot came away from the 6 Hours of Monza with “a lot of confidence” about its wingless LMH prototype.

“It clearly showed that this car has potential,” he said. “Of course there is still much we need to improve, but we are all fully motivated for the challenge that lies ahead.

“At Monza, I learnt a great deal personally as a driver, too. I got to see how the Peugeot 9X8 behaves in traffic and up against other Hypercars. After running solo throughout testing, it marked a fresh step in assessing how we stacked up in that respect.

“At Fuji, the strategy remains the same: we will focus on our own car, our own team and our on work – and then see where we end up.”

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

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