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Peugeot 'scratching their heads' after poor Imola WEC qualifying in new look 9X8

Peugeot believes it maximised the new version of its 9X8 despite ending up more than two seconds off the pace in qualifying for this weekend’s Imola World Endurance Championship round.

#94 Peugeot Totalenergies Peugeot 9X8: Paul Di Resta, Loic Duval, Stoffel Vandoorne

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Jean-Eric Vergne insisted that he and the Peugeot Sport team left nothing on the table on the way to 15th position in the opening qualifying session, five places off the cut-off for the Hyperpole final. 

He added that only a small improvement would have been possible without the red flag two minutes before the end of the initial period of qualifying. 

“As a team, we did a very good job and we extracted the most from the car,” he told Autosport. 

“Without the red flag, we might have had two or three-tenths, but nowhere near what we needed to be in Hyperpole.

“It was a kind of a moment where you exit the car and you are scratching your head on what to improve to go faster.

“The car balance was great, the team did a great job all weekend to give me a good car in quali - in terms of driving it felt very good.”

The two Peugeot 9X8 2024 Le Mans Hypercars were a second and a half off the pace of Antonio Fuoco in the pole-winning Ferrari 499P LMH in the opening 12-minute session. 

That gap grew to more than two seconds once Fuoco improved by seven-tenths in the 10-minute Hyperpole session. 

Stoffel Vandoorne was slightly the quicker of the two Peugeot drivers, his 1m31.651s, a tenth up on Vergne’s, 1m31.748s, putting him 14th. 

The inference from Vergne’s comments is that there is still work to do on the Balance of Performance for the revised 9X8 making its debut this weekend in Italy. 

#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: Paul Foster

It follows an admission of surprise from Peugeot Sport technical boss Olivier Jansonnie at the BoP for the 9X8 at Imola. 

He described the BoP for the 9X8 as “tough”, while stressing that Peugeot trusts in the processes of the rule makers, the FIA and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest. 

Vergne stressed that Peugeot’s job in Sunday’s Imola 6 Hours will be to execute the perfect race. 

“Regardless of the performance we need to finish the race and say we have done everything right, made the right calls, had good pitstop strategy, and as drivers made no mistakes, been good on tyre management and aggressive when we needed to be,” he said. 

“We have to take this race very seriously because the day we have the car to win we need to be ready and we need to be perfect. 

“We are going to try to race perfection tomorrow regardless of where we end up.”

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