Peugeot announces Le Mans Hypercar driver line-up – Kevin Magnussen confirmed

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Peugeot announces Kevin Magnussen, Paul Di Resta, Jena-Eric Vergne, Loïc Duval, Gustavo Menezes, Mikkel Jensen as the drivers for their new Le Mans Hypercar entry

Kevin Magnussen (Haas-Ferrari) before Formula 1 testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, February 2019 Photo: Grand Prix Photo

Kevin Magnussen has made the switch from F1 to Le Mans with Peugeot

Grand Prix Photo

Kevin Magnussen has joined Peugeot’s new Le Mans programme, as the company prepares for its return to the enduro classic in the hypercar category.

The former Haas F1 driver will be joined by two others with grand prix experience: two-time Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne and Paul Di Resta, who was part of last year’s LMP2 Le Mans-winning team

Loïc Duval, Gustavo Menezes and Mikkel Jensen complete the six driver line-up, which was announced in a virtual press conference.

Peugeot is looking to add to its three Le Mans wins with its new Hypercar, which will compete in the World Endurance Championship from next year.

Looking forward to a new challenge in motorsport, Magnussen said he hoped to use knowledge from grand prix racing in the endurance discipline.

“Le Mans is the biggest endurance race in the world,” he said. “It’s the race that everyone wants to win. It’s a very historical race, has a lot of history, Peugeot is a big part of it and I hope to enter that history.

“I gained a lot of experience from seven years in F1, working with very complex and advanced race cars, but also being a high pressure environment.

“When we go to Le Mans and the world championship, we’re going to face a lot of pressure and I think working in that environment is something I’m very accustomed to.

“I have high ambitions, looking at the past Peugeot have always been very successful in every motorsport programme they’ve joined.

“I can’t wait to hopefully have that success and I’m looking forward to getting started.”

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Peugeot said that it expected to have its twin-turbo V6 engine running on the dyno by April, with the hybrid system integrated by November, and the car running on track before the end of the year.

Olivier Jansonnie, technical director of Peugeot’s WEC programme, said that the team had an initial shortlist of 40 to 50 drivers, which it then whittled down by comparing their race data.

“We looked at their statistics over the last 5 years in every kind of high-level endurance racing,” said Jansonnie. “From that list, doing this mathematical analysis, we selected a shortlist of 12 drivers. We interviewed all those 12 drivers.”

Assessing them on team spirit, endurance racing experience and their abilities in energy management — crucial for the hybrid car — Peugeot then picked its final six.

Di Resta, who in addition to winning Le Mans LMP2 also finished runner-up in the class in this year’s World Endurance Championship, spoke about what attracted him to the Peugeot project.

“I think the biggest thing is the start of this new adventure, certainly with the introduction of the new rules, certainly the top class of WEC and Le Mans in the manufacturer’s interest,” he said.

“When you look at Le Mans it’s a team effort, and the driver has the easiest part of the job, when you look at it. It really pushes everyone to another sense that you don’t realise you have.

“When you have experience and go through it at Le Mans, it’s something that’s very special when you cross that line and get that job done.

Last year Peugeot announced the details of the power train, utilising a twin-turbo, 2.6-litre V6 engine. The 671bhp petrol engine will power the rear wheels, while a 268bhp electric motor provides drive at the front.

The 165kg powertrain is apparently influenced by the diesel-powered 908 line, which won Le Mans in 2009, as well as the four-cylinder turbo WRC car run by sister company Citroën.

Toyota has already unveiled its Hypercar set to race this year, whilst Glickenhaus are also set to enter. Alpine Signatech will enter with a ‘grandfathered’ LMP1 car, whilst it appears ByKolles will not have their Hypercar ready for this year’s WEC season.

Audi and Porsche have confirmed they will enter Le Mans and WEC under the LMDh rules, designed to have convergence with the American IMSA series.