Oliver Jansonnie (Peugeot) : "We intend to make use of the jokers to introduce a number of evolutions" to the 9X8
Peugeot Sport has learned a lot from the three WEC races in which the 9X8s have competed last year. “We learnt a great deal each time, technical director Olivier Jansonnie explains. For example, Monza helped us to hone our race team. Indeed, the previous experience of endurance racing of some staff dated back more than a decade, while others came from other types of motorsport or were completely new to the sport. The weekend in Italy enabled us to familiarise ourselves with the format of FIA WEC rounds and adapt the way we were organised accordingly.”
“We were affected by a number reliability-related issues, but these were resolved in time for Fuji which came as a nice surprise with regard to our competitiveness. Everything went smoothly there every time the car took to the track. There was a sense of disappointment, though, at the 2022 season’s last round, in Bahrain, where a reliability shortfall prevented the 9X8 from demonstrating its full potential. Until we reach a sufficient degree of reliability, the team will not be able to turn its full attention to extracting maximum performance from the car.”
But the French team has nevertheless identified a number of small areas for improvement. And today, Olivier Jansonnie confirmed that in 2023, they "intend to make use of the jokers authorised by the regulations to introduce a number of evolutions.”
As a reminder, Article 19.1.3 of the Le Mans Hypercar Technical Regulations stipulates that "modifications requested for performance reasons must respect several" conditions and "no more than 5 Evolution extensions (EVO jokers) per manufacturer (is) allowed from January 2021 until December 2027, regardless of the number of different homologations." These "jokers" are to be dissociated from the evolutions made by Peugeot after Monza which, although beneficial to reliability, did not bring any gain in performance. Otherwise, these evolutions are not included in the quota of the five Jokers Evo mentioned in the regulations.
Peugeot Sport did not, of course, communicate on the number of jokers used or the parts concerned. But we can be sure that one of the main target will be to solve the lack of top speed that the lioness suffered so much from in 2022. What is certain is that the 9X8 is accumulating test sessions in order to giving Toyota and others a hard time as early as the 1000 miles of Sebring (17 March), the opening round of the 2023 season.
"Sebring is a very specific circuit and you can’t necessarily apply what you learn there to your preparations for the Le Mans 24 Hours, Jansonnie said. That said, the race’s duration and the characteristics of the track will likely place the emphasis on durability and reliability. Another aspect that will be useful as part of our build-up to Le Mans is the fact that we will see the LMH and LMDh classes go head-to-head for the very first time as more newcomers join the field. Here again, the experience gained in the three races we contested last year won’t go amiss. In parallel to our race programme, we also have a busy test schedule planned ahead of Le Mans."
A circuit on which the French manufacturer has triumphed twice, at the 12 Hours of Sebring, in 2010 and 2011.