Peugeot could go back to the top prototype class of Le Mans if race organisers substantially reduce the costs of competing
Jim Holder
20 March 2017

Peugeot could return to the top prototype class of Le Mans racing - but only if race organisers substantially reduce the costs of competing.

Peugeot withdrew from the LMP1 class of the World Endurance Championship in early 2012, at a time when its road car division was making substantial losses. The French manufacturer had competed in the championship for five years, winning Le Mans in 2009 and the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup title in both 2010 and 2011.

Speaking at the recent Geneva motor show, Peugeot chief Jean-Philippe Imparato reiterated PSA Group boss Carlos Tavares’s assertion that the company was now in a position to return to sports car racing if costs are lowered.

“We have always said we will return if three conditions are met: firstly, we as a company are making money; secondly, we have won the Dakar Rally and thirdly, the cost of competition cannot be over €200m per year,” said Imparato. “The first two conditions are now met, the third is not. We are studying a return, but the regulations must be easier on the budget.”

Audi withdrew from the championship at the close of the 2016 season, leaving Porsche and Toyota as the two manufacturer entries in the LMP1 category. Organisers are said to view three manufacturer teams as the minimum number for the championship to be sustainable, and are pushing for rule changes to reduce costs and tempt Peugeot in.

Potential changes include modifying the aerodynamic rules, although the continued use of costly hybrid powertrain systems is seen as crucial to making the race cars relevant to road car developments.

In September last year, Tavares said: “There are many ways to limit costs, including the aerodynamic development.”

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20 March 2017
There seems to be plenty of money floating around at PSA these days, so why not? But why return as Peugeot, which has already tasted success? Perhaps it would be better to promote the group's Opel or DS brands instead as from a marketing perspective they might benefit more.

20 March 2017
The P1 Hybrid cars are massively expensive to develop, build and run, easily equally or even surpassing F1 cars while like F1, part of the huge costs are down to the hybrid engines. However, manufacturers will only race if they can be the best and beat the rest and that involves continuous develop of their cars which invariably involves huge costs, regardless of what the regulations are. I suppose a freeze on development might work, but then what's the point of racing if you can't develop your car further to beat the competition, especially if your car isn't up to speed from day one so so end up staying second best for race after race after race. One simple solution to bringing costs might be to base all ICEs in P1 Hybrid on road units, similar to what many manufacturers did in the 1980s, but still couple them to the state of the art electrical power. Either way, the FIA needs to bring costs down but avoid doing is dumbing down the WEC by restricting the status of P1 because these cars are, and should be, the pinnacle of racing cars in design, technology an performance alongside F1 cars. Otherwise you may as well just get rid of P1s and just stick with P2s. P1 is already suffering with various speed restrictions to the point where on many circuits a cheaper, much less advanced GP2 car is faster.

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