Peugeot has given a shot in the arm to the new hypercar class at the Le Mans 24 Hours by announcing its intention to return to the race in 2022.
Parent company PSA has released a brief statement confirming its intention to not only race at Le Mans, but also to compete in all rounds of the World Endurance Championship, starting in 2022 with an all-new hybrid-based contender. No further details have been revealed at this stage.
PSA motorsport director Jean-Marc Finot said: "I am very excited at the prospect of channelling the skills and passion of my team into this project.
"It is a new challenge and I know our experts will rise to it with another demonstration of their will to win with teams financed by the [PSA] Group's brands, fuelled by their long experience of top-flight FIA championships and hunger for success."
The surprise entry goes a long way to validating the decision to switch from the current LMP1 regulations to a new hypercar formula, which is due for introduction in 2020. Before Peugeot's announcement, the only major car makers to commit to the category were Toyota and Aston Martin.
Proud to announce our participation in the world’s premier endurance racing championship WEC from 2022 with a Hybrid Power Hypercar. Stay tuned, more to come at the beginning of 2020! @peugeotsport pic.twitter.com/u3KqDkKA0G
— Peugeot (@Peugeot) November 13, 2019
The new hypercar rules have been shaped with cost-cutting in mind, with a season's budget expected to be limited to around €20 million (£17m). Manufacturers have the option of developing a bespoke racer, or modify a road-going hypercar for race use. Toyota has opted to focus on a bespoke racer, while Aston Martin plans to enter the Valkyrie.
Peugeot has a rich history at Le Mans, winning its world-famous home race twice at the end of the Group C era, in 1992 and 1993. It returned to sports car racing in the LMP1 era, battling Audi for honours between 2007 and 2011, winning Le Mans in 2009 with its diesel-powered 908 HDi FAP.
A hybrid version of the car was under development when Peugeot pulled the plug on the endurance racing programme, just one year before the founding of the WEC in 2012. Since then, rumours have suggested the car maker could return to the race, but bosses have always maintained the would only do so if the rules changed to lower costs and make a campaign more sustainable.