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Peugeot keeping focus on reliability above performance for Le Mans return

Peugeot remains focused on reliability rather than the performance of its 9X8 Le Mans Hypercar as it gears up for its return to the Le Mans 24 Hours next month.

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

Olivier Jansonnie, technical director of the 9X8 project at Peugeot Sport, insisted that there is no change in direction at the team despite clean races for its pair of entries in the Hypercar class in each of the past two rounds of the World Endurance Championship at Portimao and then Spa last month.

“We are still working on reliability; it is the most important thing for us right now,” said Jansonnie.

“A clear road map was set for this year, which was to try to work on reliability.

“We are still in that mindset: we are trying to achieve what is possible for Le Mans.”

Jansonnie insisted that only when the car is reliable can the performance of the avant-garde contender be fully unlocked.

“There is still some performance potential just by running the car more and more,” he said.

“The ways to improve the car are still quite obvious to us, but it is difficult to say if that’s a hundredth, a tenth or several tenths.”

PLUS: Can Peugeot turn its style into substance at Le Mans?

Jansonnie stressed that Peugeot could not be confident about the reliability of the 9X8 ahead of the double-points WEC round on 10/11 June.

“To say we are 100% confident, we are not there yet,” he said.

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

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

Photo by: Eric Le Galliot

“Le Mans, for sure, will be a difficult one. But if you look back to where we were three or four months ago, we have improved a lot.”

The Peugeot TotalEnergies team did not have any more endurance testing planned after the Spa 6 Hours, having completed its Le Mans simulations with its fourth such run between Sebring and Portimao.

Peugeot bounced back from its disastrous showing on the opening weekend of the 2023 WEC at Sebring when both its cars were hit by transmission problems in the opening hour of the race.

A fix for a problem with the electric gearshift actuator had been identified late last year and development of the hydraulic system that came online at Portimao was already in the mix.

One of its two cars was delayed before the start in Portugal while the steering rack was replaced, while the other suffered a failure of a series-mandated driveshaft torque sensor.

The cars came through to finish fifth and seventh, respectively two and three laps behind the winning Toyota.

At Spa, the only significant delays for the cars were caused by electrical sensor linked on the refuelling rig and accident damage.

They finished among the LMP2 cars in 14th and 17th positions, but were again two and three laps down at the chequered flag.

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