Stoffel Vandoorne expressed his enthusiasm for the Peugeot 9X8, describing it as the most enjoyable driving experience yet on the newly-renovated Lusail International Circuit during the FIA World Endurance Championship’s Prologue test. The recent upgrades to the circuit provided the ideal backdrop for showcasing the car’s impressive performance. Vandoorne’s positive feedback raises anticipation for upcoming events, highlighting the 9X8 as not just a racing car but a thrilling and comfortable driving experience.

As the Qatar season opener approaches, the Peugeot 9X8 is gearing up for its last race in its current wingless form. Fans can anticipate a major transformation as a significant upgrade package, featuring the highly anticipated rear wing, is scheduled to make its debut in April during the second round of the season at Imola. This strategic enhancement promises to bring a new dimension to the 9X8’s performance, adding excitement and anticipation for the upcoming races. The evolution of the car signifies Peugeot’s commitment to continuous improvement and competitive excellence in the world of motorsports.

Despite initial challenges, the French automaker delivered an impressive performance during the two-day Prologue. Stoffel Vandoorne stood out by securing the second-fastest time in Tuesday’s third session, steering the No. 94 Peugeot. Notably, he trailed only behind Frederic Makowiecki’s Porsche Penske Motorsport entry. This success underscores the competitive edge of Peugeot and hints at a promising season ahead. Vandoorne’s noteworthy achievement adds to the anticipation surrounding the team’s performance in the upcoming races, setting a positive tone for their journey in the motorsport arena.

Wrapping up the test sessions, the two Peugeot crews secured the ninth and tenth positions overall. Stoffel Vandoorne emerged as the leading force, clocking an impressive lap time of 1:41.260 in the No. 94 car. Notably, this narrowly edged past Jean-Eric Vergne’s best effort of 1:41.311 in the No. 93 car. The close competition within the Peugeot team adds an intriguing element to their dynamics, setting the stage for an exciting and competitive season ahead. These lap times underscore the team’s commitment to pushing boundaries and achieving excellence on the racing circuit.

Reflecting on the conclusion of the Prologue, Vandoorne expressed optimism about the upcoming Qatar curtain-raiser, characterizing it as a significant “opportunity” for Peugeot. He highlighted the synergy between the innovative 9X8 concept and the recently refurbished asphalt at Lusail, suggesting that the car’s design aligns exceptionally well with the track’s characteristics. Vandoorne’s perspective underscores the strategic advantage Peugeot aims to leverage in the Qatar season opener, emphasizing the tailored fit between their cutting-edge vehicle and the upgraded racing surface at Lusail. This alignment sets the stage for an exciting and potentially successful debut for the Peugeot team in the upcoming race.

Vandoorne shared his insights, noting that the Peugeot car seems particularly well-matched to the Lusail circuit due to its smooth surface. He explained that the unique concept and ride height control of their vehicle benefit from a smoother track, allowing the team to keep the car operating in an optimal and more enjoyable performance range. Essentially, the design philosophy and technological features of the Peugeot vehicle find an ideal environment on the smooth terrain of the Lusail circuit, enhancing the overall driving experience and performance during races.

Vandoorne pointed out that the configuration of the Lusail track, characterized by predominantly flowing medium-speed corners, plays a strategic role. It effectively conceals some of the weaknesses of the 9X8, particularly in slower turns. This suggests that the circuit’s layout provides a favorable environment, allowing the Peugeot team to capitalize on the car’s strengths and navigate through its challenges more effectively. The synergy between the track’s design and the 9X8’s performance dynamics adds an intriguing layer to the team’s strategy, highlighting the importance of adapting to and leveraging the unique characteristics of each racing circuit.

On the other hand, Vergne approached Peugeot’s prospects at Lusail with a hint of caution, acknowledging the competitive challenges. Despite this, he suggested that the track opener presents one of the manufacturer’s prime opportunities of the season. Vergne’s measured optimism implies a realistic assessment of the hurdles ahead, yet underscores the significance of the Lusail race as a potential turning point for Peugeot. It indicates a balanced perspective on the team’s chances, recognizing both the difficulties and the promising aspects that could unfold during this crucial early phase of the season.

“The smooth track at Lusail is a big plus for us,” noted the French driver. “Our car prefers it that way, making the drive more enjoyable and predictable. It’s about finding that sweet spot for a smoother and controlled performance on the track.”

“With its uniquely smooth surface, this track is something special. Our wingless car thrives here, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if this turns out to be our ideal match.”