Dakar Rally News: Peugeot Faces Uphill Battle in WEC Debut at Imola

    In the opening qualifying session of the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season at Imola, Jean-Eric Vergne and the Peugeot Sport team were left scratching their heads after failing to secure a spot in the Hyperpole final. The new Peugeot 9X8 Hypercar finished 15th, a full five places off the cut-off.

    Vergne admitted that the team had extracted the maximum from the car, but a late red flag prevented them from finding those last crucial tenths to make it into the Hyperpole shootout. “Without the red flag, we might have had two or three-tenths, but nowhere near what we needed to be in Hyperpole,” he told Autosport.

    The gap to the pole-sitting Ferrari 499P LMH of Antonio Fuoco was a significant 1.5 seconds in the initial 12-minute session, and that grew to over 2 seconds after Fuoco found an additional seven-tenths in the 10-minute Hyperpole run.

    Vergne’s teammate Stoffel Vandoorne was marginally faster, but the duo’s times of 1:31.651 and 1:31.748 respectively were only good enough for 14th and 15th on the grid.

    The comments from Vergne suggest that the Balance of Performance (BoP) for the revised 9X8, making its debut this weekend, is still a work in progress. Peugeot Sport technical boss Olivier Jansonnie had previously admitted surprise at the BoP, describing it as “tough.”

    “Regardless of the performance we need to finish the race and say we have done everything right,” he said.

    The Dakar Rally specialist knows that when Peugeot does have the car to win, they need to be ready and flawless in their execution. “We are going to try to race perfection tomorrow regardless of where we end up,” Vergne concluded.

    The 2023 WEC season has kicked off with a challenging debut for the new Peugeot 9X8 Hypercar, but the team remains determined to unlock its full potential and be in contention for victories in the races to come.

    ๐Ÿ”— Source