► PSA motorsport boss mulls WEC entry
► Peugeot last won the race in 2009
► Cost-cutting regs could tempt return
Peugeot hasn’t raced at Le Mans since 2011, but PSA motorsport boss Jean-Marc Finot says the company is weighing up a return to the World Endurance Championship and its 24hr centerpiece race.
One of the few teams to break Audi’s modern-era stranglehold on the Le Mans 24hr race, Peugeot won the event in 2009. A return might prove too tempting – Finot’s keeping a close eye on the 2020 World Endurance Championship regulations being developing by the FIA and ACO.
‘The FIA and ACO have made a lot of efforts to decrease cost with the new regulations, while still keeping the battery electric technology and plug-in fast charging that will come to road cars in the next few years,’ says Finot, who is in charge of both Peugeot and Citroen’s factory motorsport programmes.
‘There’s a proposal for an almost standard flat underfloor without any parts in the wheelarches, with only one aerodynamic configuration allowed [so no low-downforce Le Mans specials but a shape that must work throughout the WEC calendar], and a limit on wind tunnel time and tests days.
‘The costs are going down, but we think there is a possibility for more standardization of parts, as in Formula E – from a spectator point of view I don’t think it’s important that the cells of a battery are different for each manufacturer. We have to find the best balance between the spectacle and cost. The new regulations come in 2020 but it’s not a hurry for us – we must examine the cost and examine whether it's a clever investment.’
Currently, Peugeot’s factory motorsport might is concentrated on long-distance rallying. Wherever Finot takes his teams, he’s adamant each must compete for a world championship, but never against each other, so Citroën has WRC, DS is in Formula E, and Peugeot competes in the Dakar and Silk Way rally – and given that’s just two headline events each year, Rally Raid too.
‘It would be interesting for us to be back in the WEC. We left five years ago; the PSA Group was unprofitable, it had been done, and we wanted to win the Dakar– but we’ve now won that twice…’