Follow us

Monza debrief with Team Peugeot TotalEnergies’ car chiefs

When the PEUGEOT 9X8 took its eagerly-awaited FIA World Endurance Championship bow at Monza on July 10, it was a key watershed moment for the crews in charge of the team’s two prototypes, as car chiefs Marc Meneghin (#93) and Thomas Desforges (#94) explain…

Nothing can ever replace actual racing. We asked Marc Meneghin and Thomas Desforges – chief mechanics of Team Peugeot TotalEnergies’ #93 and #94 cars – whether the team’s extensive preparation work and private testing ahead of the trip to Italy had enabled them to cover all the foreseeable interventions on the cars, establish the optimal refuelling and tyre-change routines and find the most efficient way to organise the team’s garage space?

The answer was a clear ‘no’.

Thanks to their long experience of motorsport working on the brand’s former 908 and WRC programmes respectively, they knew only too well that the 9X8’s maiden competitive appearance would not only be an exciting occasion, but also an opportunity for them and the four mechanics who perform the tyre changes and the two in charge of refuelling to harvest invaluable experience.

AUTO - TEST MAGNY-COURS PEUGEOT 9X8 03/2022

Outsiders were keen to see how we fared at our opening race and there were high expectations in-house, too, so we all felt a certain sense of relief when Monza got under way,” admits Thomas Desforges. “We have total respect for our rivals and we wanted to see how we compared on the race track. We were up there, even though everything didn’t go perfectly. We are in the process of building our race team and, above all, looking to progress for our first full FIA WEC campaign in 2023.

Like Thomas, Marc Meneghin has already started to focus on the areas that Monza revealed as needing improving. This phase includes using the staff’s collective experience to make the team even more closely knit and acquire the reflexes that can only really be honed at races. “The result was promising ahead of our next outings, in Fuji and Bahrain,” he says. “In private testing, we would film our pit stop routines and determine who would be responsible for which task, drawing inspiration from the approach of our Hypercar to the job. Our intervention times improved during the race, when adrenaline plays a big role.

The 9X8 is a puzzle that comprises some 10,000 pieces, and it takes four weeks to assemble each one. “The 9X8 is more complex than the 908 due to its hybrid system, and there’s less space to work.

If an issue necessitating work in the pits occurs, the chief mechanics have around a minute, a minute-and-a-half as the driver heads for the pits to decide how they will approach the job and draw up a list of the parts and tools they will need. “We are constantly in contact with the drivers and engineers over the team radio and via the telemetry,” explains Thomas Desforges. “If a problem arises, we are able to pinpoint its origin and work out how to resolve it before the car arrives.

Untitled design

In addition to monitoring the Peugeot 9X8’s performance at Monza, Thomas and Marc also paid close attention to how the garage is organised and how to manage their cars in the pit lane.

It’s important that everyone is able to move around the box easily when the cars are being worked on,” explains Thomas Desforges. “Everything has to be as functional as possible and we determined the best set-up during private testing.” For example, the tyre trolleys are equipped with bicycle bells that warn of their arrival.

Another thing that can’t be replicated in private testing is pit-lane traffic,” adds Thomas Desforges. “At Monza, our garages were situated between those of LMGT and LMP2 teams. When everyone makes a dive for the pits under Full Course Yellows, you need to be able to pick out your car in the pit lane and facilitate its arrival and departure, especially when both of your cars show up at the same time. You simply cannot simulate all this jostling. It’s the sort of experience that can only be gained at races.

Fortunately, the 9X8’s design means it stands out easily, and we have a simple way to tell our two prototypes apart: the ‘claw’ pattern of the #93 car’s lights is picked out in ‘Kryptonite’, while that of the #94 car is white. That will come in particularly useful when we start racing at night.

Thomas Desforges (2)
Marc Meneghin (3)
Marc Meneghin (3)
Thomas Desforges (2)
1 2

Other news

See all