It was announced earlier this week that Peugeot had reinstated it’s involvement in World RallyCross and would be staying in the Rally championship until at least the end of 2018. It was unclear how the World Endurance Championship and 24 Hours of Le Mans organisers Automobile Club de l’Ouest would react to the news as they had been hoping that their steps to make the LMP1 class of the WEC more cost efficient would be enough to entice the French Manufacturer back into the sport for the 2020/21 season. However, the ACO has now released a statement in reaction to Peugeot’s news.
Peugeot have been a big factor in the decision process of the new regluations. The ACO have been trying to get more manufacturers into the top class of the WEC, with cost being the apparent most important factor of why manufacturers are staying away. However, when Porsche announced their withdrawal from the WEC at the end of this year, following fellow Volkswagen-owned Audi Sport who departed the WEC at the end of last season, the regulation overhaul for the 2020 season was scrapped. The regulation change was something that Peugeot was a big part of.
In their statement, the ACO say: “The ACO has learned of Peugeot’s decision to intensift its programme in a series other than endurance. We can only accept it and fix an appointment with them in the years to come to prove to them the interest of our branch of motorsport, and the validity of the direction taken in endurance in the areas of cost-capping and technology, which other manufacturers and other teams working alongside us will prove to them.”
Peugeot have displayed a great deal of interest in returning to the pinnicle of endurance racing, with their main focus being a reduction of cost. It is understood thta Peugeot believes the scrapping of the 2020 regulations overhaul, which was predominantely focused on cost-reduction and zero-emmisions, would not have brought the cost-reduction they were looking for if they were going to rejoin the WEC.
In argument to this assumption, the ACO stressed that they were still striving to make reduction costs when they bring in new regulatiosn for the 2020/21 season: “We’re pursuing our strategy built around an accessible blue-riband category with budgets that are much smaller than those required in recent years: these grew exponentially as was very often the case in the past because of the involvement of several manufacturers. We’ll adapt ourselves to this natural cycle in endurance and take appropriate action.”
It is not clear which direction the ACO will go for their 2020/21 regulation change, but they have stressed intent to keep hybrid technology in the sport as well as trying to bring on as many manufacturers as they can to help make appropriate rule changes and fill the grid.
Peugeot raced in the LMP1 class from 2007-2011, just before the rebirth and rebranding of the endurance championship to the World Endurance Championship due to significant finanical loses.