A move that had been widely expected has been confirmed by Peugeot Sport technical director Olivier Jansonnie, who has revealed that the French manufacturer will race in the 2024 WEC curtain-raiser at Qatar in March with a car unchanged from the specification in which it contested last year’s season finale in Bahrain.
Jansonnie explained that the timing of the decision to undertake a radical overhaul of the avant-garde 9X8 with the swap from equal-size tyres on both axles to narrower fronts and wider rears meant that a debut at Qatar on 2 March had never been an option.
“We knew from the start that we couldn’t make it [the homologation of the revised car] in February,” he said.
“The reason is that with this homologation process, when you do a joker, you can’t just do half of the job, you have to do it fully, and that takes time to make sure you maximise the effect of your joker.
“We know that the level of competition was very high last year and will be even higher this year, so it is very important for us to bring something that is making a clear step forward in terms of performance.”
Photo by: Peugeot Sport
Olivier Jansonnie, Peugeot Sport technical director project 9X8
Peugeot didn’t announce its decision to change from the 31/31 tyre option to the 29/34 run on the Toyota and Ferrari LMHs until last year’s Bahrain WEC finale in November, although it was known to have tested a modified current-spec 9X8 with the new set-up in the summer.
The in-house factory Peugeot Sport squad is working towards completing the new homologation by the end of March in order to race the evolution version of the car at Imola on 11 April.
“The timeframe is trying to be ready for racing in Imola,” Jansonnie said.
He insisted “there is no question” of the debut of the revised car being pushed back until round three at Spa in May.
Jansonnie added that after initial testing “the results are matching our expectations”.
The revisions to the 2024 version of the 9X8 are substantial, Jansonnie explained.
“First we needed to move the weight distribution of the car,” he said.
“Our car was designed to have a very forward weight distribution to go with the 31/31 tyres, so we have had to move it back by a substantial amount.
“We needed some lighter parts on the car and to move some ballast, and then retune the aero balance.
“Everything is driven by the tyre choice we are making now.”
Jansonnie wouldn’t confirm that this will include the addition of a conventional rear wing, something that appears to be the case on the evidence of spy shots of the car testing at Paul Ricard before Christmas.
Nor would he reveal whether there are any other upgrades on the car under the so-called ‘evo joker’ rules, which allow for only five changes made in the name of performance over the full lifecycle of the car.
It is understood that there is also a significant upgrade to Peugeot’s 2.6-litre twin-turbo V6.
“We don’t want to disclose too many details on what we are doing exactly on the jokers.
“We all have a limited number of jokers, five for the complete homologation, so we are trying to restrict the scope of what we are doing to the essential points for performance.”
The scope of a joker covers one chapter in the regulations, but it is unclear how many Peugeot has had to invoke in the development of the B-spec 9X8.