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Peugeot explains decision not to use WEC reserve driver at Spa

Peugeot has explained why it passed on the opportunity to use its reserve driver for this weekend's Spa World Endurance Championship round in Jean-Eric Vergne and Stoffel Vandoorne's absence.

#93 Peugeot Totalenergies Peugeot 9X8: Mikkel Jensen, Nico Muller

Photo by: Emanuele Clivati | AG Photo

A desire to maximise seat time for the regular drivers of its 2024-spec 9X8 Le Mans Hypercar, which is making only its second race outing prior to next month's Le Mans 24 Hours, was cited by technical director Olivier Jansonnie as a justification for not giving reserve Malthe Jakobsen a WEC race debut. 
"We’re looking for stability in our crew, basically, trying to make sure that we maximise the driving time for the drivers going to Le Mans afterwards, that was the only thing for us," Jansonnie said, when asked by Autosport to explain its approach. 
"We’ve been giving driving time in testing to Malthe, I think it was all very positive. 
"Now coming to Le Mans, preparing for the race, it was good for us to have this kind of repeat, even if it’s only with two drivers."
Peugeot will run two drivers in each of its cars at Spa, with Vergne and Vandoorne on Formula E duty in Berlin sister Stellantis brand DS. Mikkel Jensen and Nico Muller share the #93 entry, with Paul di Resta and Loic Duval aboard #94.
Jansonnie rejected the view that not utilising Asian Le Mans Series champion Jakobsen might mean he is unprepared if called upon for Le Mans, where he is scheduled to race for Cool Racing in LMP2.
"Personally, [I think] he’s ready for almost every race," he said. 

Photo by: Peugeot Sport

Jakobsen explained that he accepted the team's decision. 
"Of course, I’m a racing driver and I prefer to be sitting in a race car with the steering wheel between my hands," he said. 
"But I understand the team’s importance of keeping the team environment and the team spirit with a brand-new car and to prepare themselves as best as possible for the 24 Hours of Le Mans which is the big target for everybody in this sport and especially the team as well.
"I still feel like I’m ready, otherwise I don’t think they would have given me the opportunity to be a reserve driver because it means that if one day one of the drivers won’t be ready to drive, I would have to step in."
Jansonnie said that Spa would be "interesting for us to experiment this kind of two drivers situation" as he anticipates there will be more scenarios in the future when clashes arise "just because simply there are more and more races".
He believes mirroring the approach adopted since Imola by the Ganassi-run Cadillac Racing V-Series.R LMDh, which is also being followed at Spa by the #12 Jota Porsche 963 LMDh with Norman Nato racing in FE, will "make our life much easier in free practice" and allow for a more focused approach to car set-up. 
"You’re just increasing more variables you have to play with [having] three drivers, so it should be a bit easier," he said. 
#93 Peugeot Totalenergies Peugeot 9X8: Mikkel Jensen, Nico Muller, Jean-Eric Vergne

#93 Peugeot Totalenergies Peugeot 9X8: Mikkel Jensen, Nico Muller, Jean-Eric Vergne

Photo by: Paolo Belletti

"And in the race, we will see, it really depends on the number of stints we’ll have in the race. 
"If we keep the race to six stints, it’s probably easy, if you start doing seven stints then we’ll have to scratch our heads and see how we do that with the drivers."
Following a 4kg weight gain and 2kW reduction in maximum power in the latest Balance of Performance revealed earlier this week, Jansonnie said "we don’t expect to be at the very front" at Spa.
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