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Why Peugeot Sport Isn’t Coming To The WEC

Famin and Finot speak to the French press

Last week we all learned that after years of speculation, Peugeot Sport is not set to come LMP racing in the foreseeable future in the top class of the WEC. Instead, the French brand choosing instead to focus on its World Rallycross programme, a far cheaper option.

Since the ACO’s public statement, explaining that Peugeot couldn’t make a commitment to the WEC, Peugeot Sport’s top brass have spoken to the French media, giving more insight into the reason for its choice in direction.

Jean-Marc Finot, PSA’s motorsport manager told newspaper L’Est Republicain: “[Our return to endurance] is not on our agenda – at least for now. We have decided to focus our efforts on rallycross and on its full electric version coming some time in the near future.

“In fact, we had two scenarios to chose from: on one hand, we had a prestigious and high visibility option that supports the brand and our hybridation strategy for our upscale / high end vehicles.

“On the other hand, we had a strategy supporting our B segment cars. We chose the latter.”

L’Equipe meanwhile, spoke to Peugeot Sport director Bruno Famin about its strategy going forward.

“It’s a brand strategy and a real choice. We had two options: promote Peugeot’s petrol hybrid technology that our road cars should adopt by the end of the decade or anticipate what will happen not so long afterwards, that is full electric technology. hence our choice of e-WRX.

“You really had a confrontation of projects here. Both made sense: on one hand, petrol-hybrid technology and endurance meant, to some extent, a more institutional brand communication. On the other hand, you had full electric technology and rallycross with focussed communication on our 208 car and it potential buyers.

“Both were extremely interesting strategic choices. Peugeot has decided to communicate on its flagship product, the 208 and the full electric vehicle that shall replace it.”

And finally, in Auto Hebdo’s most recent feature about Peugeot Sport’s decision, it explained that the lack of full technical regulations for 2020 was key in its choice. Without a full rule set, Peugeot felt it could not truly understand whether or not a cut in budget for the programme was possible.

The manufacturer asked for a standardised plug-in batteries for the manufacturers in LMP1 and substructures for the cars, both requests which the ACO has not made a firm decision on.

This, plus the lack of confidence in the competition in the WEC for 2020, meant rallycross, and specifically the allure of e-WRX, was enough to prevent Peugeot from green-lighting a return to endurance racing.

Aside from all of the above though the DSC Editor has established that there were very active plans for an announcement of an LMP1 programme by Peugeot  which was due to take place at the 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours – that announcement though was pulled for unspecified reasons, industry source suggesting that PSA’s looming emissions scandal may have played a part.