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HomeMotorsportsNew Peugeot 9X8 heaviest hypercar: is comparison even possible?

New Peugeot 9X8 heaviest hypercar: is comparison even possible?

The Peugeot 9X8 2024 debuts at the 6 Hours of Imola with the highest weight of all hypercars – are fair comparisons with Qatar even possible?

“The BoP is not exactly a Christmas present.” – Stoffel Vandoorne immediately gives a reason should the debut of the new version of the Peugeot 9X8 not be able to match the strong performance of the old car at the 1,812 kilometers of Qatar.

“From that point of view, it could be a bit more complicated for us this weekend. But you can also look at it positively and say that they must have seen our data and said: ‘Hey, this car is really good’. For us, it’s all about gaining valuable experience anyway,” says Vandoorne.

The FIA WEC committee obviously does not want to be taken by surprise when classifying the hypercars at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari and is very conservative in its classification of the new French car, which is now equipped with a rear wing.

This makes 1:1 comparisons difficult, especially as the old Peugeot 9X8 did not really fit into the current hypercar regulations. It fell victim to the LMH-LMDh convergence, which was announced just as the rear-wingless car was ready. Nevertheless, while the old 9X8 was still the lightest hypercar in Qatar, the new one is now the heaviest.

Vandoorne’s team-mate Nico Müller admits to being somewhat surprised by the parameters: “In the end, we are the heaviest car and have slightly less power than before. That’s just the way it is, we trust in the process and have to see how it looks on the track compared to the other cars out there. “

Wider working window hoped for

For Vandoorne, the new 9X8 feels “more like a race car”. Above all, however, Peugeot is hoping for a significantly larger working window. This is because the old car without a rear wing was only good on flat tracks, where it could make the most of its aero concept. On bumpy tracks such as Sebring, the French car only lagged behind.

“The old car had its good days, it worked in certain conditions – Qatar was a perfect example with a flat surface, high-speed corners and not too many slow sections. The car was good there,” said the Belgian ex-Formula 1 driver.

“The new car will have other advantages, hopefully with the aero platform it will be much more consistent on bumpy tracks, we will probably be able to test that well this weekend.” The track in Imola requires aggressive driving over the kerbs in the chicanes. This is where the 9X8 2024 can immediately show whether it can deliver what it promises.

The result will of course be of secondary importance in view of the heavyweight base classification. The most important thing is to complete a trouble-free race with both cars – that was anything but a given with the old car. In Qatar, a problem with the battery cost a 9X8 all chances of a good result

“We know that the past two seasons have been quite difficult in this respect. We have to get to grips with that. And we’ve spent a lot of time on it,” promises Vandoorne. But he knows that he cannot rely on test drives alone.

“For some reason, a race is always more stressful for the cars. In race conditions, everything has to go faster, the pace is higher and it’s also a harder job for the mechanics to prepare the cars at the weekend. During testing, it’s sometimes a bit more relaxed because you have more time. “

Battle on two fronts

Peugeot’s Technical Director Olivier Jansonnie describes the challenge Peugeot Sport has faced over the past twelve months since the decision was taken to revamp the 9X8 after Sebring 2023.

“Above all, I am very proud that we have managed to work successfully on two fronts for more than a year,” he says. “Our teams have done a phenomenal job of delivering on our sporting program with the 2023 version while developing the Peugeot 9X8 for 2024.”

“This is especially true when you consider that the specifications were changed during the year to take into account everything we learned in terms of reliability and aerodynamics, as well as the findings on the new tires that we tested on a development vehicle from mid-2023. “

Peugeot has not tested at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in advance, unlike Ferrari and Porsche. Jansonnie is relaxed: “We haven’t tested on the track yet, but that was also the case in Qatar and we were fast there, so I’m not too worried. “

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