The French manufacturer found that the switch from the equal-size 31cm-wide tires of the original car to 29cm fronts and 34cm rears produced a bigger than expected gain on the upgraded 9X8 Le Mans Hypercar.

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“We have decided to go for these tire dimensions knowing they had more potential,” he said Peugeot Sport technical director Olivier Jansonnie.

“We found from testing that they had even more potential than we expected from our simulation; “this came as a surprise to us.”

Initial testing has confirmed that the gains with a car known as the 9X8 2024, which incorporates a rearward shift in weight distribution and new aerodynamics involving the addition of a conventional rear wing for the first time, have made it less sensitive to different track configurations.

That was the primary weakness of the first iteration of the 9X8 that came on stream in mid-2022: it proved competitive at Le Mans and Monza last year and Qatar this season, but struggled to varying degrees at other circuits.

“The amount of performance gain over the old car will depend on the track layout, but it is always faster and better with the new car in terms of tire management and tire consistency,” he explained.

He added that he expects the new car to “be more robust” in terms of performance over a range of circuits.

Peugeot Totalenergies Peugeot 9X8

Photo by: Peugeot Sport

The switch of tire concept from 31/31 to 29/34 will also give Peugeot “more potential for the years to come” in terms of development, he continued.

The French marque aspires to be “fighting for podiums and some wins on a regular basis” over the remainder of the 2024 WEC, Jansonnie stated.

The 9X8 2024, which will make its debut in the Imola 6 Hours on 21 April, has so far completed between 7000 and 8000km since its maiden test before Christmas.

This has been accumulated over the course over two endurance simulations at Paul Ricard and Aragon in preparation for the double-points Le Mans 24 Hours WEC round in June.

“We are right in the middle of the season preparation for Le Mans, and most of the testing we are doing is endurance,” said Jansonnie.

Le Mans last year was one of the strongest races for Peugeot: it led the race with its #94 car shared by Loic Duval, Gustavo Menezes and Nico Muller was a consistent frontrunner from Saturday evening until just past the halfway mark.

Jansonnie believes that the change in concept of the car will not diminish Peugeot’s chances at Le Mans this year.

Peugeot Totalenergies Peugeot 9X8

Peugeot Totalenergies Peugeot 9X8

Photo by: Peugeot Sport

“Our car concept, aero and tires, was probably less of a disadvantage at Le Mans than other places,” he explained. “We believe we can achieve the same performance with the new car as we had with the old one.

“Aside from performance there is so much you learn from doing that race year after year. “We learned a lot from last year’s race: I think we can carry that over with the new car and for sure be as strong at Le Mans this year as last year.”

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