Overnight Peugeot dropped a bombshell when they announced their immediate withdrawal from sports car racing. Most notably that brings an abrupt end to their Le Mans program.
The Peugeot 908s often played second fiddle to Audi, but they did reign supreme in 2009 when they finished first and second at Le Mans. Australian David Brabham was at the wheel of the winning car that year, joined by Marc Gene and Alexander Wurz. In 2010 the 908s were quicker than the Audi R15s and the French team looked set to defend its title. One by one, though, the 908s retired from the race with mechanical issues.
Peugeot are also the current title holders of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, successfully defending their 2010 crown.
The current economic climate has forced their hand, Peugeot says, as well as a need to reapportion funds to a number of new product launches in 2012.
It’s a loss for sports car racing and with less than six months to go until the 2012 Le Mans 24 hour race it pretty much hands Audi another victory. Race organisers, the ACO, are not overly happy but insist the grid at Le Mans will be well filled.
ACO club president, Jean-Claude Plassart, said: “It is a big disappointment for the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA World Endurance Championship, which begins in the year 2012. A competition created at the request of manufacturers in general and in particular Peugeot. No doubt the hundreds of thousands of fans who flock to the 24 Hours of Le Mans each year and millions of viewers who follow will regret the absence of the Peugeot ‘lions’ “.
Peugeot’s official statement can be read below.
[Thanks to Mick for the tip]
Peugeot brings down the curtain on its endurance programme so as to ensure the success of its numerous launches in 2012.
18 February 2012
After 14 victories in the last 16 races, including a double at the Le Mans 24 Hours 2009 as part of the ILMC championship won by Peugeot two years running, in 2010 and 2011, the Brand has decided to close its 2012 endurance programme and will not be taking part in the next Le Mans 24 Hours.
This decision has been taken against the backdrop of the challenging economic environment in Europe coupled with a particularly busy year for the Brand in terms of new vehicle launches. In this context, Peugeot prefers to concentrate its 2012 resources on its commercial performance and, in particular, ensuring the successful launches of the 208, 3008 HYbrid4, 508 RXH, 508 HYbrid4 and 4008 which will take forward the Brand’s strategy of moving upmarket and extending its global presence.
In keeping with its social responsibility obligations and as part of the GPEC (forward management of jobs and skills) agreement, all of the employees concerned will be offered redeployment solutions within the Group thanks to a special system set up to oversee and lead occupational training/retraining as well as internal mobility.