Peugeot has not completely ruled out a return to factory LMP1 competition in the future, but has admitted that it’s currently unable to secure the necessary budget to mount a top-level prototype effort. (En Français)
Speaking to Endurance-Info, Peugeot Sport director Bruno Famin said the escalating costs to compete in the premier class of the FIA World Endurance Championship currently has the French manufacturer not being able to commit to such a program.
“The budget is [the problem],” Famin told Endurance-Info. “The President of PSA dreams of a return of Peugeot to the 24 Hours of Le Mans and more generally, in endurance [racing].
“But for this there are conditions… That PSA gets better, which is pretty much engaged and that the requested budget is sharply down.
“Currently it’s just an idea and a target on the horizon.”
Peugeot, which ran factory 908s in Le Mans-labeled series from 2007-2011, pulled the plug on its program just weeks prior to the inaugural round of the WEC in 2012 due to company wide financial issues.
The French automaker has since rebounded in the industry, posting earnings and an increase in global sales in the first quarter of 2016.
However, with Audi and Porsche repordidely spending in excess of $200 million annually, and Toyota having recently increased its 2016 budget to nearly $100 million, Famin said Peugeot would be unable to compete with those numbers.
“The FIA WEC is a magnificent championship with beautiful cars,” Famin said. “The series is ideal for manufacturers and is much better than F1.
“The technology is interesting as well as the format. Manufacturers fight with [each other] and we remember the manufacturers as winners more than drivers, with a few exceptions.
“The big reservation concerns the budget, which is currently far too high. We can only praise the approach of the FIA and ACO to reduce costs.
“Although the Germans have reduced [their program to] two cars at Le Mans, it is still something symbolic.
“Two-thirds of the F1 teams would love to have budgets LMP1 top teams.”
Famin admitted Peugeot had previously evaluated a Garage 56 entry but ultimately did not move forward with it.
“Garage 56 is very interesting for us and we thought about it shortly after stopping the 908 program,” he said. “Currently, it’s [the concept is for it] to serve as a springboard to LMP1.
“Peugeot will return to endurance racing the day it will be possible to mount a real project with something behind it.”