Peugeot ends its Le Mans campaign

After five years of racing the 908 HDi FAP and the 908, the cars that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2009, Sebring in 2011, the last three Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta and the last two ILMC championships, Peugeot has decided to end its prototype program.

This is an unexpected surprise and a disappointment to sportscar racing fans.

Citing declining sales, increasing costs, and the desire to focus its efforts on their commercial vehicles, Peugeot will be a noticeable absence at Le Mans this year.

The French based ACO expressed their disappointment in a statement released this morning: “The Automobile Club de l’Ouest deeply regrets the departure of the French manufacturer, nevertheless with the creation of the new FIA World Endurance Championship, the future of the discipline promises more prestigious than ever.”

The ACO isn’t the only one, Peugeot driver Anthony Davidson is equally and understandably disappointed: “It was such a disappointment to hear the news today.  I’m devastated for the Peugeot team and everybody that has worked so hard over the last two years.  It’s a real blow for the World Endurance Championship and the fans who were looking forward to another tremendous battle between three manufacturers.”

Watching the Peugeot’s and Audi’s battle it out at Le Mans and again at Road Atlanta, really brought drama to the events.  While the Pugs won Petit Le Mans handily, the Audi’s barely won the 24 Hours of Le Mans.  These two manufacturers challenged each other, forcing them to improve their machines.  It was a wonderful arms race and I hope Toyota or someone else will be able to step up to the plate and challenge Audi at La Sarthe.

Speaking of Toyota, they rolled out their new LMP1 prototype for a few laps at Paul Ricard.  These photos were recently released to the public.

It’s a good looking car and I hope they’re considerably more successful than their F1 program.

UPDATE: I just found this article.  In it, interviews a member of the Peugeot race team and he reveals some interesting information regarding the abruptness of this decision.

“No one saw that one coming. Not at all. Yesterday, we got a message to gather all together at 4 p.m. And we were told the bad news,” he said.  “This decision is quite hard to understand. Just after Christmas we restarted the manufacturing of parts process and we had just received the 2012 tubs. The test team was down in Sebring, Florida to do some testing when they got the news. Now, they’re getting prepared to fly back here in Velizy,” our man told us.

“This week, we were deciding if we were going to enter three or four 908s at Le Mans, and how many of these cars would be hybrids. The news was a shock – a major blow on our heads. We will offered redeployment solutions within the company and internal mobility, but the worst part is that we will lose more than one hundred of very qualified and highly skilled persons. The situation is really dramatic for our younger mechanics and technicians. We’re going to lose everything. If Peugeot ever wants to go back racing, they will have to build everything from scratch,” he added.

He confirmed that Peugeot does not want to see the 908s being entered and raced by privateers. “No. Peugeot does not want to see a single 908 leave the factory. One private team has already offered Peugeot to race our cars, but it got a definite no as an answer. It’s all over. Period.” he said.

No privateers?  So all the time, money, engineering, and development put into the 908’s over the past 5 years is just thrown away?  A privateer – Oreca – won Sebring last year!  How could they not consider recouping some of their costs and keeping the French fans happy that a French developed car was competing to win Le Mans.

An hour after the team was informed, the official press release was posted on the web.  Shocking and disappointing.

UPDATE #2:  Saw this today and I think it has some great information regarding this year, next year and 2014 with regards to the new rules and new competitors:


One Comment on “Peugeot ends its Le Mans campaign”

  1. Ted Wilbert says:

    Very shocking and sad! There has to be more to the story, the explanation just doesn’t fit. It would be one thing if they were floundering at the bottom but they were winning!

    The Toyota looks good. Let’s hope they can do something with it.

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