Peugeot is eyeing a sensational return to prototype endurance racing – but only if the organisers agree to cut the costs of competing.
Fresh from buying Opel and Vauxhall, the French brand has told Autocar that the possibility of their return to the World Endurance Championship depends on three conditions: profitability, winning the Dakar Rally and an LMP1 cost cap of €200 million per year, and only the last obstacle remains.
The French firm has Le Mans pedigree, taking the overall win at La Sarthe in 2009 with its 908 HDi FAP diesel LMP1 machine. But financial troubles led to a shock withdrawal from the sport in early 2012.
Ultimately, Porsche joined Audi and Toyota in 2014 to create some of the best sports car racing we’ve seen in recent times before Audi’s sad departure last year; its diesel-fuelled motorsport programme a casualty of dieselgate.
With the drop to two major factory-backed LMP1 teams seen as a big problem by race organisers, it’s in everyone’s interests to get Peugeot back on board. Senior FIA and WEC figures are now understood to be looking at potential rules changes that could bring costs down without harming the levels of innovation that have made the WEC an increasingly popular sport.
Autocar quotes Peugeot CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato as saying:
“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 €200 million per year.
“The first two conditions are met; the third is not. We are studying a return, but the regulations must be easier on the budget.”