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WEC – Rolex 6 Hours of São Paulo: Team Peugeot TotalEnergies returns to unfamiliar territory

After a respectable result for the PEUGEOT 9X8 2024 on its début at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Team Peugeot TotalEnergies is set to race for the first time at the 6 Hours of São Paulo, round five of the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship.

Or rather a second time, since Peugeot has actually raced here before, securing a one-two finish back in 2007 with the 908 HDI FAP LMP1 prototypes driven by Minassian/Gené and Sarrazin/Lamy at the Interlagos track. However, 17 years later, the race will be a new challenge for the Hypercars, which are completely unfamiliar with this track.

“It’s almost as if we had never raced at Interlagos before,” admitted Olivier Jansonnie, Peugeot Sport Technical Director. “Our preparation is based exclusively on work done on the simulator. So obviously it’s more difficult than preparing for a race that we are familiar with, but everyone is in the same situation. We’re approaching the race in São Paulo in much the same way as we did the races Qatar or Imola.”

Located to the south of Brazil’s largest city, the Autodromo José Carlos Pace – better known as Interlagos – has hosted 40 F1 Grand Prix and three rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2012, 2013 and 2014. After a ten-year hiatus, the 6 Hours of São Paulo returns to the FIA WEC calendar.

At just 4.309km long (the shortest of the season), Interlagos is a hilly and twisty circuit that runs anti-clockwise. Sector 1 is quick with the “S do Senna” and “Curva do Sol” turns, sector 2 is a slower section with eight turns, and sector 3 leads the drivers uphill to the start-finish straight.

Of Team Peugeot TotalEnergies’ six drivers, only Mikkel Jensen is unfamiliar with the track. Paul di Resta, Loïc Duval, Nico Müller, Stoffel Vandoorne and Jean-Eric Vergne have all driven at this iconic circuit before, either in Endurance or in Formula 1.

“We intend to build on the reliability shown by the 2024 version PEUGEOT 9X8 at Le Mans to spend as much time on track as possible during free practice so that we can define the best set-up for the race,” concluded Olivier Jansonnie.

Nineteen Hypercar prototypes are expected to race at Interlagos. After the first three free practice sessions and qualifying on Friday 12 and Saturday 13 July, the Rolex 6 Hours of São Paulo will get underway on Sunday 14 July at 11.30am local time (4.30pm CET).

Nico Müller (no. 93 PEUGEOT 9X8)
“We’ve had a chance to recharge our batteries following two very intense weeks at Le Mans and I’m ready for the next race. Interlagos is a nice track with plenty of pace and changes in elevation. It also has such a rich history. The first sector is iconic with the S do Senna turn, which may well suit our package. Sector 2 is pretty slow, which is perhaps not our strength. Nobody has tested at Interlagos, however, so we’re all starting from scratch. It’s going to be unfamiliar territory for everyone and I love a new challenge.”

Stoffel Vandoorne (no. 94 PEUGEOT 9X8)
“It’s effectively a new circuit for the team. It’s very different to Le Mans, of course, in that it’s very short and fairly hilly. The aim will be to find the right set-up, continue to make good pit stops and have a good race strategy so we can fight with our rivals. We still have work to do to get more out the new car, but that motivates us for the coming races.”