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Peugeot introduces gearbox fix for Portimao WEC after Sebring issues

Peugeot is confident that gearbox developments introduced for this weekend’s Portimao round of the World Endurance Championship will prove reliable in the six-hour race.

#93 Peugeot Totalenergies Peugeot 9X8: Paul Di Resta, Mikkel Jensen, Jean-Éric Vergne

JEP / Motorsport Images

The new gearshift activation system on the French manufacturer’s 9X8 Le Mans Hypercar has already come through a Le Mans 24 Hours endurance simulation at Paul Ricard, during which it exceeded the distance it will have to cover in Sunday’s Portimao 6 Hours. 

Olivier Jansonnie, technical director of the in-house Peugeot Sport team, explained that the revised transmission set-up “already has more reliability than the previous system” that delayed both 9X8s in the opening stages of the Sebring 1000 Miles season-opener last month.  

“We are happy with the system and the mileage we have to do here [in Portimao],” said Jansonnie. 

“Let’s put it this way, we covered more mileage than we will do here, but it is just one test. 

“We hope we don’t run into trouble here, but for sure it is better system, there is no doubt.”

The new hydraulic activator replaces the previous electric system that had been on the seven-speed 9X8 from its first tests right at the end of 2021.

Jansonnie revealed that development of the revised gearshift set-up had started at the back end of Peugeot's three-race programme in the 2022 WEC, which began after Le Mans. 

“It started being clear that we had to do something before Bahrain [the season finale in November],” he explained. 

“We started looking into it and it is quite a fundamental revision, a big change on our car. 

“It took quite a long time to achieve the design.”

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

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

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Peugeot revealed in the wake of its disastrous Sebring showing that it had gone into the race knowing it could encounter a problem with the gearshift and that the fix was due to come on stream at Portimao. 

Loic Duval stopped on the green flag lap in the #94 Peugeot and required a pitstop of approximately 20 minutes for attention to the gearshift mechanism. 

The sister #93 car lost a similar amount of time just after the end of the opening hour when Paul di Resta pitted with gear selection issues.

Jansonnie stressed that Peugeot’s focus with the 9X8 remains reliability as it gears up for a return to Le Mans in June for the first time since 2011. 

“It has to be in that order: we have to make sure the car can run for long distances without any issues and in that the performance will come,” he said. 

He suggested that Peugeot would have been closer to the pace at Sebring had the two 9X8s run more cleanly through the pre-event Prologue test and race week. 

“Without any reliability issues we would have spent a lot more time doing our tests, looking for performance and I am sure the performance would have been more,” he explalined.

But Jansonnie conceded that Peugeot does not yet have a totally reliable Le Mans racer that can go through the 24 hours without problem. 

“We know we still have some weak points on the car, plus there is probably some stuff we haven’t found yet that could still happen,” he said. 

He added that in terms of having an “something absolutely bulletproof, we are not there yet”.

The Ricard test, undertaken with the development chassis, in the wake of Sebring was Peugeot’s final endurance simulation before Le Mans on 10/11 June. 

Practice for the Portimao 6 Hours begins at 10:30 local time in Portugal.

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