Peugeot Sport has announced that the revolutionary 9X8 Hypercar will not race at any of the first three rounds of the 2022 FIA World Endurance Championship, including the Le Mans 24 Hours.
The move means that the WEC rounds at Sebring, Spa and Le Mans will feature only Hypercars from current champions Toyota and Glickenhaus, as well as Alpine’s grandfathered Oreca-built LMP1 cars.
Having already confirmed that the 9X8 would not race at the opening round in Sebring, the team had been told by the ACO (which organises Le Mans and the championship alongside the FIA) that it would not be allowed to compete at Le Mans in 2022 unless it raced at the second round in at Spa. Now Peugeot has confirmed that its new hypercar will not compete on track until after Le Mans. Meaning that unless the BoP shifts from 2021 the race may well be another simple victory for Toyota’s GR010.
According to Peugeot, the delay is because the team wants more time before it homologates the radical 9X8, which features no rear wing and striking aero design.
Peugeot’s statement said that the team is hoping to race “in summer” which makes the July round in Monza seem likely, but that will depend on homologation. Le Mans Hypercars are a fixed design once homologated, and even though the field should be balanced through BoP and all teams are allowed a “joker” redesign, any issues with the original design will be set into the car. Peugeot as a result is keen to make sure that its car is right before it goes racing.
The biggest blow for the team will be in marketing and PR terms. The 9X8 had already drawn a lot of attention for its design and would have been the star of the show at Le Mans in 2022 as the only new hypercar on the grid. While it will no doubt draw attention in 2023 as a French team in a French race, Peugeot will have to contend with the return of Ferrari to the top class and the debut of LMDh machinery.
Peugeot technical director Olivier Jansonnie said: "This way, our planning will enable us to put the full weight of our teams and resources behind our own test sessions, without the disruption of racing at Spa-Francorchamps and Le Mans.
"Both operationally and from a reliability perspective, Le Mans is the most difficult race on the calendar. We will begin with some shorter races, which will allow us to progressively get up-to-speed in the championship.
"Like with our road-going cars when we have to choose between meeting a deadline or focussing on quality, we always prioritise quality."
The full Le Mans entry list, without Peugeot, is expected to be revealed on Monday.