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.