Peugeot 908 under the bridge at Road Atlanta during last October's Petit Le Mans (Photo Credit: Peugeot SportPeugeot 908 under the bridge at Road Atlanta during last October's Petit Le Mans (Photo Credit: Peugeot Sport)

Peugeot 908 under the bridge at Road Atlanta during last October's Petit Le Mans (Photo Credit: Peugeot Sport)

Peugeot have announced the end to their LMP1 sportscar program with immediate effect.

The official announcement explains; “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.”

Peugeot expect to launch a new range of models which, they say “will take forward the brand’s strategy of moving upmarket and extending its global presence.”

The decision will end the French manufacturer's involvement in endurance racing after five years of the current program that began in 2007 with the 908 HDI FAP, a car allowed them to join rivals Audi at the front of the grid to begin an era dominated by their diesel engined prototypes.

The high point for the Peugeot team led by Olivier Quesnel was a 1-2 finish in the 2009 24 Hours of Le Mans with the trio of David Brabham, Marc Gene and Alexander Wurz scoring victory. A year later Peugeot was dealt a bitter blow as they tried to defend their title as all four 908 HDi FAP cars entered in the race retired after a succession of fiery engine failures.

Elsewhere in 2010 Peugeot dominated the endurance racing calendar winning the three race Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC), a title it successfully defended in 2011 with the brand new Peugeot 908, which was built to the new rules specifications and debuted at Sebring last March.

In total Peugeot cars won 14 of their last 16 endurance races around the world, the missing two being titles at Le Mans.

In 2012 it was expected that Peugeot would compete in the new World Endurance Championship which has already attracted new factory backed entries from Toyota and Porsche.

“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,” said Automobile Club de l'Ouest President JeanClaude Plassart. “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'”.