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Di Resta: Peugeot had to overcome wingless 9X8's weaknesses for 2024 WEC upgrade

Paul di Resta says Peugeot had to overcome the key weaknesses of its radical 9X8 while working on an updated contender for the 2024 World Endurance Championship season.

#94 Peugeot Totalenergies Peugeot 9X8: Loic Duval, Gustavo Menezes, Nico Muller

Although the 9X8 made its debut only halfway through the 2022 season, the French manufacturer has decided to bring a major evolution of the car this year, possibly using some of the evo jokers that are allowed to LMH machinery within the regulations.

The most visible change will be the addition of a new rear wing, as spied during a test at Paul Ricard in December, bringing it more in line with conventional hypercars.

Peugeot is also expected to move away from same-size Michelins on both axles and switch to narrow front tyres (29-inch) and wider rear tyres this season, the same option used by Toyota, Ferrari and all LMDh contenders last year.

The overhaul follows a challenging first full season in WEC in 2023 in which it looked strong at the Le Mans 24 Hours and scored a podium at Monza, but lacked pace to run anywhere near the front in the remaining five rounds of the year.

Di Resta said Peugeot was able to identify areas where the wingless 9X8 was lagging behind its rivals, and the changes it has made to address those weaknesses have given drivers more confidence in the car.

“It's obvious how our car worked was very different to others,” said the British driver. “I think how the rules were decided way back is the direction they went with the car that we used last year. 

“Throughout that we saw the weaknesses through the development and against the competition. You can't underestimate how the competition has always moved forward. 

“I think the new benchmark that Toyota came out with last year, Sebring showed the difference you can make between cars. 

“The most important thing for us was when you are ready to make that step you try and do as much as possible. But until the lap times you see against the competition you won't know if you have done a good job. 

#94 Peugeot Totalenergies Peugeot 9X8: Loic Duval, Gustavo Menezes, Nico Muller

Photo by: Shameem Fahath

#94 Peugeot Totalenergies Peugeot 9X8: Loic Duval, Gustavo Menezes, Nico Muller

“Yes, it will aesthetically be a bit different. I'm sure people will clearly see one thing and choose to have an opinion on that but for us it's about making sure the car feels good, because if you give the drivers confidence that's a big thing in endurance racing.”

Peugeot hasn’t provided an exact date for the debut of the upgraded 9X8, and it’s not clear if the car could be ready for the season opener in Qatar in early March.

Stopping shy of revealing any news about the 9X8's debut, di Resta said it would be impossible to judge the competitiveness of the car until it is put directly against its Hypercar rivals in WEC.

“We've run elements of the car. Yes, it feels very different,” he explained. “Yes, from a driver it gives you more feedback in the direction that we want. But it's been hard racing the car that we had against the competition. 

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“There are strengths that we've had, and I'm not only talking about aero, not only talking about mechanical, it's all the way through. But these are the things that we have addressed. 

“I think the most important thing is everybody from the department comes together. It was a new team that designed this car so this is after the data they needed to gather to go forward they've put all to use.

“That's the main improvement. But I'm looking forward to see how it races against the others, and more importantly races at the sharp end hopefully.”

Peugeot has rejigged its driver line-up in WEC this year, with di Resta moving across to the #94 9X8 to join Loic Duval and newcomer Stoffel Vandoorne, who has been drafted in to replace Gustavo Menezes in the team.

Di Resta’s place in the #93 crew will now be occupied by Nico Muller, who will be joined by Jean-Eric Vergne and Mikkel Jensen

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