Peugeot has had a bit of an on-again, off-again relationship with endurance racing over the years. Peugeot 905s dominated in sportscar racing and at Le Mans in the early 1990s (albeit when the category was on its last legs) and again in the late 2000s/early 2010s with the utterly gorgeous Audi-beating 908.
However, when the WEC was created Peugeot surprisingly withdrew on the eve of the inaugural season in 2012. And, although it has kept an eye on a potential return ever since, the announcement that it will be coming back has come as almost just as much of a shock.
The LMP1 cars is being phased out in favour of the new hypercar class from next year and, as expected, it’s attracted a lot of attention. Aston Martin is coming in with the Valkyrie, Toyota is sticking around, Glickenhaus is building a car for it, as is ByKolles. McLaren is even rumoured to be building a hybrid powertrain ready for a future entry, too.
That’s the kinda the goal of the hypercars – to bring in manufacturers who are already building similar vehicles for the road, or smaller specialist manufacturers for whom it’ll be more cost-effective than building a bespoke LMP1 prototype. Toyota isn’t really classed as either but given that it’s already spent money on developing the technologies over the past decade, it’s not entirely surprising that it’ll continue.
Peugeot on the other hand? That is a bit out of nowhere. It’s good news though – manufacturers are still keen to get involved with motorsport, even if they’re not completely relevant to the way the road car industry is going.
The new rules come into play for the 2021/22 season, but Peugeot has said that it won’t be entering until 2022 – that could mean a couple of preliminary events (maybe including Le Mans) at the start of the year, or waiting until the start of the season after.
Either way, it’s just adding to our excitement to see what this new category is going to offer. It helps that WEC races at the moment also appear to be becoming a bit less predictable – even if the means at the moment are a touch artificial.
Top image (c) David Merrett/Creative Commons