Peugeot will not contest the opening round of the FIA World Endurance Championship season at Sebring as it continues to work on the pre-homologation testing program for its new Le Mans Hypercar.
The French manufacturer confirmed on Tuesday that the pair of Peugeot 9X8s will miss the 1000 Miles of Sebring on March 19, however the exact timing of their highly anticipated race debut is still yet to be determined.
WEC CEO Frederic Lequien clarified last week that Peugeot will need to enter either Sebring or Spa to ensure its place on the grid for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.
Peugeot is signed up as a full-season entrant — as is required for all Hypercar teams — but is currently working through an intensive track testing program before locking in the homologation of its 2.6-liter V6 hybrid-powered prototype. Once achieved, the homologation will be kept through 2025.
According to the manufacturer, the 9X8’s development program will “pick up further speed” this year as research and sign-off work continue in the simulator and during monthly track sessions.
Peugeot has revealed the first full image of the car on track during a recent test at Motorland Aragon.
“Team Peugeot TotalEnergies will not attend the first of the six rounds that make up the 2022 calendar which kicks off at Sebring in Florida,” commented Stellantis Motorsport Director Jean-Marc Finot.
“The 9X8 will make its race debut based on its level of readiness, reliability and competitiveness as agreed with the championship’s organizers who we will keep regularly updated as our development program progresses.
“We could have opted for attending selected races only without committing to the season. That would have been possible but less coherent.
“Instead, we have chosen an approach that will enable the team to be fully immersed in the discipline, resulting in much closer collaboration with the organizers even if the 9X8 doesn’t contest every race as our development work and the homologation process continue.”
The photograph of the Peugeot 9X8 testing at Aragon demonstrates that the car is continuing to operate without a rear wing.
Peugeot’s LMH contender underwent its first rollout last month but the full extent of the rear end was obscured from a photograph taken during that shakedown, leading to speculation that the original wingless design had been modified.
“This configuration is permitted by the ACO/FIA Hypercar regulations,” said Peugeot WEC technical director Olivier Jansonnie.
“Our calculations and wind tunnel work have confirmed the pertinence of our decision to run without a rear wing.
“Along with the developments and settings this option calls for, we expect it to be validated as we test at different circuits with differing characteristics.”
The Peugeots 9X8s will compete under the No. 93 and No. 94 banners, with the former representing the year of the company’s 1-2-3 overall result at Le Mans led by the 905 driven by Eric Helary, Christophe Bouchut and Geoff Brabham.