Jean-Marc Finot, the French manufacturer’s motorsport chief, admitted that “there have been improvements, but not enough” after Mikkel Jensen and Loic Duval finished outside the top eight cars that made it through in final qualifying.
Peugeot will be the only one of the five major car manufacturers participating in the FIA WEC Hypercar class not to be present in Thursday evening’s Hyperpole session.
“We made progress race after race, but we still haven’t reached the pace we expected – declared Finot – We have to do better to catch up with the leaders”.
Jensen ended Wednesday night’s qualifying session in tenth place with a time of 3’27″546, 2″3 behind Antonio Fuoco’s Ferrari 499P which finished atop the timesheets.
Duval finished three tenths behind his teammate, with a time of 3’27″850, in 11th position in the one-hour session.
Finot insisted that this was an improvement on Peugeot’s performance at the last WEC race at Spa at the end of April.
“At Spa we were two seconds away from a 2′ lap and here we are two seconds away from a 3 and a half minute lap, so we’re improving”.
#94 Peugeot Totalenergies Peugeot 9X8 of Loic Duval, Gustavo Menezes, Nico Muller
Photo by: Nikolaz Godet
Finot also pointed out that the rivals all made bigger gains than the Peugeots between free practice 1 and first qualifying: “Our competitors did a better job.”
Jensen said he was satisfied with his Top10 lap, because it was done with tires that were no longer at their best.
“I felt I got the most out of the car, but we didn’t get the lap together and we didn’t get a chance to show our pace,” he explained.
“On my best lap I was hampered by a GT car at the Ford chicane and the red flag came on my second best lap, when I was one second from the finish. The first would have been a tall 3’26”, but I don’t know if we would have been able to enter Hyperpole”.
Peugeot’s failure to pass qualifying followed signs of significant progress during last Sunday’s Le Mans test day and Wednesday afternoon’s free practice session.
Peugeot finished six tenths off the pace in the morning session of the test day and again in early practice, despite being a major beneficiary of last week’s Balance of Performance change regarding the Hypercars, as it is the only one of the five main protagonists of the class not to be affected by an increase in minimum weight.