Peugeot could return to the top prototype class of Le Mans racing – but only if the organizers of the race to substantially reduce the costs of competition.
Peugeot withdrew from the LMP1 class of the World Endurance Championship at the beginning of 2012, at a time when its road car division making a significant loss. The French manufacturer had competed in the championship for five years, winning Le Mans in 2009 and the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup in 2010 and 2011.
Speaking at the recent Geneva motor show, Peugeot boss Jean-Philippe Imparato reiterated Group PSA chief Carlos Tavares’s assertion that the company is now in a position to return to sports car racing if the costs are reduced.
“We’ve always said we will return if three conditions are met: first, we are a business to make money; in the second place, we have won the Dakar Rally, and in the third place, the cost of the competition can not be more than â‚¬200 m 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 more easy on the budget.”
Audi retired from the championship at the end of the season 2016, leaving Porsche and Toyota as the two manufacturer entries in the category LMP1. The organizers are said to see the three manufacturer teams such as the minimum number for the championship to be sustainable, and are pressing for changes in the rules to reduce the costs and entice Peugeot.
Possible changes include the modification of the rules of aerodynamics, although the continued use of an expensive hybrid powertrain systems is seen as crucial to the racing cars relevant to road car developments.
In September of last year, Tavares said: “There are many ways to limit the costs, including the aerodynamic development.”