Peugeot Leaves Endurance Racing - But Not Without A Replacement

Author: Ivan Rudnitsky       Date: 2012-03-12

keywords: lmp racing, 908 hdi fap, le mans racing, peugeot leaves endurance racing, toyota ts030, le mans race

If you live in the US, chances are you've probably never heard of the manufacturer named "Peugeot". You probably can't pronounce it either. On the other hand, maybe you are familiar with Peugeot, you know - one of Europe's top primary suppliers of fuel-efficient, snazzy little front-wheel-drive vehicles, along with hybrids. Sounds exciting right? Well, this front-wheel-drive hybrid-making manufacturer has dominated the gritty world of prototype endurance racing since around 2009, amassing 14 victories in the past 16 races, along with a massive, respectable first-second finish at the 2009 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the cars competing weren't small, affordable, front-wheel-drive road cars, they were Le Mans prototypes, or, "LMP" cars - purpose-built, lightweight, rear-wheel-drive race cars that made upwards of 600-700 hp.

Peugeot's weapon of choice was the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP, and of course, that strange combination of capital letters and numbers may mean nothing to you, but how about this? A turbo-diesel 5.5 liter V12 engine making 730 hp, and 890 ft-lbs of torque. To put it into perspective, the 908 HDi FAP makes almost twice as much torque as a Pagani Zonda R, and has a smaller engine as well. However, despite the magnificence and allure of this amazing piece of machinery and its fantastic history, none of these figures mean anything anymore, because as of the year 2012 Peugeot has decided to withdraw from endurance motorsports and end its globally-known reign in endurance racing.

The reason? Apparently Peugeot has been struggling to make ends meet in the economy for quite some time now, and with ever-increasing debts Peugeot has predicted its bleak future and aims to intercept that fate - even if it means leaving its 908 HDi FAP behind and in the books. Peugeot claims that the economic environment in Europe is to blame, and Reuters business news reports that Peugeot plans to cut nearly 6,000 jobs in 2012, among other cuts - all in the name of making financial space for Peugeot's launch of five new cars, two of which are hybrids.

But more power to them, because its better for Peugeot to leave endurance racing, focus on fixing its finances, and possibly come back, than to go out with a bang never to return. However, will this drastic, major decision affect the unpredictable, costly world of prototype endurance racing and the fans that love it? Who will Audi's R18 TDI race wheel-to-wheel, through night and day now? What will be the fate of the newly-formed World Endurance Championship?

Peugeot is essentially giving up the world of racing to make a slow car, but you don't have to worry at all, because another, well-known manufacturer is doing exactly the opposite. Do you remember who made the Prius?

That's right, immediately after seeing the opportunity open up right before their eyes, Toyota has officially announced that they are coming BACK to endurance racing. With the help of Toyota Motorsport GmbH, the same division that was in charge of Toyota's F1 program years ago, along with the help of the Oreca racing team, Toyota has created a hybrid LMP1 race car that's set to compete with the likes of Audi for the 2012 season. Don't be fooled by the word hybrid either, because if Toyota's LMP offering is going to be direct competition against Audi's R18 TDI, then its no Prius - pun intended, rather, an aerodynamic, possibly V6 or gasoline-fueled V8 powerhouse that will be sure to challenge Audi's winning streaks as well as pride.

Testing for the Toyota TS030 Hybrid has recently begun on the Paul Ricard circuit located in France, and with a 30 hour long endurance test run, the Toyota Racing team are not taking their preparations lightly. Various drivers were rotated throughout the 30 hour test session, and various expected challenges were met and dealt with accordingly. Overall the Toyota TS030 Hybrid came out on top of the challenges it met, and proved to be a solid endurance racing machine. More testing will still be conducted, and if Toyota Racing's passion and hard work continue to shine, Toyota Racing will see the TS030 through to competition in upcoming WEC (World Endurance Championship) events later this year in the 2012 season.

Peugeot's leave from endurance racing is without a doubt major news in the world of racing and a major disappointment to fans the world over, but where one story ends, another begins. Endurance racing is not dying out. With more teams every year and Toyota re-entering, along with Porsche confirmed to return in 2014, rumors of Bentley returning, as well as Nissan considering entering their own LMP1 car, endurance racing is not only getting better every moment, but its writing an entirely new history book in the process. Peugeot will not be forgotten, but time goes on, and other champions await.

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