The PEUGEOT 9X8 made its debut in Italy on July 10th, marking the start of a new era in Peugeot's long and illustrious history of endurance racing success. The Technical Director of PEUGEOT Sport, Olivier Jansonnie, said, "We needed that first race. In terms of testing, we finished with the maximum possible success. To take our training and development to the next level, we decided to enter a real race weekend and see how we fared against the competition."
With the PEUGEOT 9X8 now homologated (meaning further modifications are restricted and regulated), the two driver crews could familiarize themselves with the road and evaluate it against the other hypercars in the championship. "We gathered a lot of information about the car and the team," said Olivier Jansonnie. Even during testing, we ran into problems we hadn't anticipated. We were able to fix some of them on the spot, and we've been working on them since Monza to complete the rest. In the world of motorsport, this method has already proven itself. We are now concentrating on stability and speed rather than fine-tuning our racing tactics. Competing with established projects, some of which have been working in this field for over a decade, is expected of any new venture. Every Peugeot Total Energies crew member is highly motivated; we all know there's a lot more potential in this car and in this crew. However, we haven't met a challenge that we haven't been able to overcome. "
With Olivier Jansonnie and his team disappointed at not making the most of the PEUGEOT TotalEnergies' ten-minute qualifying session in Italy to showcase the PEUGEOT 9X8's potential, they went into even greater detail to optimize the work on the car. During two secret test drives between Monza and Fuji, the team put in extra time and effort to perfect this specific aspect. "Since this will be our first time on this track, we need to make the most of every opportunity from Friday morning until Sunday afternoon," explains Olivier Jansonnie.
The PEUGEOT TotalEnergies team will be making its second appearance of the 2022 season at the Fuji Six Hours, which is also round five of the FIA World Endurance Championship. It presents a unique set of difficulties in comparison to Monza. Team members like Olivier Jansonnie remember this fact: "For long-distance events like this, we must adapt our processes because we don't have the same options as campers and trucks at our races in Europe."
Heavy, persistent rain is possible due to the route's and region's erratic weather. These circumstances add another unknown for some members of the PEUGEOT TotalEnergies team. Some drivers, such as Jean-Éric Vergne and Gustavo Menezes, have raced at Fuji before, and others, such as Loc Duval and James Rossiter, have spent significant time in Japan throughout their careers. Crews and their engineering teams have been working hard in the simulator. This real-world experience will add to the information they've gathered to help them prepare as well as possible for the challenges this famous Japanese track presents.
"Monza could have gone better for us, but that was to be expected at such an early stage of an ambitious project like this," explains Jean-Éric Vergne. "Due to mechanical issues, we withdrew from the race in position #93. However, in my free practice run, we were nearly as fast as Toyota, which shows we are headed in the right direction with this unconventional vehicle. I believe that without any doubt. Our first race marked a significant turning point in this thrilling journey, and now our sights are set squarely on Fuji. However, that's what maintains a constant level of excitement! "
"We took a lot of confidence from our first race in Italy because it clearly showed that this car has potential," says Gustavo Menezes. Naturally, much more work is needed, but we are up for the challenge. As a driver, t of confidence from our first race in Italy because it clearly showed that this car has potential," says Gustavo Menezes. "Naturally, much more work is needed, but we are up for the challenge. As a driver, too, I gained a great deal of insight from my time in Monza. The PEUGEOT 9X8's performance in traffic and comparison to other hypercars would be revealed to me. Now that we've been on our own throughout the testing period, we're taking things to the next level by testing our abilities in a team setting. Our plan for Fuji remains the same: we'll worry about ourselves, our car, and our team."