Peugeot shuts down Le Mans race team
Peugeot has shocked the world of international sports car racing by announcing that it is ending its race programme with immediate effect.
The decision includes the Le Mans 24 Hours, where the French maker has battled Audi for wins since 2007.
A statement from Peugeot today blamed the current tough sales market for the move. “This decision has been taken in the context of a difficult economic environment in Europe,” the statement said.
It added that the French maker would concentrate resources on its sales performance in 2012.
Peugeot group (PSA) has been suffering on the European market, where it is the second biggest car marker after Volkswagen, for some time. In 2011 its sales dropped nine per cent, and production capacity is being cut as a result.
In the UK Peugeot sales dropped 13 per cent in 2011.
Peugeot has raced a diesel-powered sports car, the 908, on the international sports car scene. It was Audi’s only serious rival for overall victory at Le Mans but in four attempts had won only once, in 2009.
However Peugeot did win last season’s inaugural Intercontinental Le Mans Cup series.
This series becomes the World Endurance Championship in 2012, and Audi will now be expected to dominate it until new cars from Toyota and Porsche come fully on-stream, in 2013 and 2014 repsectively.
Words by: Andrew Charman