Qatar 1812km: Team Peugeot TotalEnergies determined ahead of the new FIA WEC season

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Qatar is where an exciting new season kicks off for Team Peugeot TotalEnergies, with nine manufacturers involved in the championship and no fewer than 19 Hypercar entries. A record number in what promises to be a very competitive and closely-contested season.

 

With around ten hours of racing scheduled at the Lusail International Circuit (5.38 kilometres), the curtain-raiser to the 2024 season of the FIA WEC is expected to present a sizeable challenge. It is the second-longest event on the race calendar, only bettered by the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It will be a real test for both men and machine, not to mention the tyres, especially as hot conditions are expected to play a vital role. The team dealt with challenges on two fronts during the off-season: continue to develop the 2023 PEUGEOT 9X8 whilst following the demanding roadmap set out for the 2024 PEUGEOT 9X8 in orde

to be ready in time for Imola in April. It is therefore with a very determined and competitive attitude that the team is preparing to kick off its season in Qatar.

“We expect it to be a tough race,” confirmed Olivier Jansonnie, Peugeot Sport Technical Director. “Reliability will be a key factor, but we have the advantage of knowing that the 2023 PEUGEOT 9X8 is a tried and tested car and that it proved itself to be solid in Fuji and Bahrain at the end of last year. We’ll need to produce a clean, error-free performance, in terms of the drivers, reliability and strategy. If we manage to do that, then we can make the most of the circumstances. We have some new tools available to help improve even further what we do on track. In any case, we are determined to get the very best result possible.”

Whilst the track will be new to many competitors, everyone will have the chance to get to grips with it during the Prologue held prior to the opening round and get back into the swing of things. At Peugeot Sport, crew members will also be able to prepare fully for the new season on the simulator, with all six drivers taking turns behind the wheel. The drivers will have the opportunity to learn about the subtleties of the track, as well as those of the PEUGEOT 9X8 after the winter break, whilst the engineers will be able to work on the set- up of the car and plan for several potential race situations so that the team can react quickly to any eventuality once at the track.

The final unknown is the BoP, the Balance of Performance between the various cars on the starting grid. “There will be new adjustments made to the balance of performance ahead of the opening round,” commented Jean-Marc Finot, Senior VP, Stellantis Motorsport. “The PEUGEOT 9X8 that will be racing in Qatar will be identical to the one that competed in the final races of 2023. The BoP should therefore position it closer to the performance of the top competitors. The idea is therefore for us to try and fight for the leading positions.” This approach reflects the determination that drives everyone at Team Peugeot TotalEnergies at the start of the new campaign.

 

What they said

Nico Müller – PEUGEOT 9X8 #93 : “Qatar looks set to be an intense and exciting race, with the Prologue held just before. We’ve all worked hard during the winter and everyone in the team is very motivated. We can’t wait to get started now. From a physical point of view, my preparations have been very good and I feel even sharper than before. I hope I can show that in the PEUGEOT 9X8, which I will now be sharing with JEV and Mikkel. I get on very well with everyone in the team. The decision to change the make-up of the crews was mainly about set- up preferences related to our driving styles, so that we need to compromise as little as possible on performance. In any case, I think there will be a strong dynamic between the three of us. The other two guys are very quick and are also huge competitors, and I equally think there is good mix in terms of personality.”

 

Stoffel Vandoorne – PEUGEOT 9X8 #94 : “I can’t wait to start the new season. It will be my first full campaign with Team Peugeot TotalEnergies, driving with Paul and Loïc, with whom I get on very well. In Qatar, we’re going to do everything we can to get the maximum out of the 2023 PEUGEOT 9X8 at its last race. The advantage for us is that it’s a car we know and understand well. I’ve never raced here before, but the Prologue will help me get my bearings. I’m certainly expecting it to be a tough race physically, given the very high temperatures you get over there and it’s also a very fast track. Tyre management is undoubtedly going to be a challenge, but we’ve prepared for that!”

 

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