Peugeot Sport has announced that it will join the FIA World Endurance Championship’s ‘Hypercar’ top class from 2022 onwards.
The French marque made this short announcement via social media, stating simply that it will enter with a ‘Hybrid-Powered’ Hypercar, followed by “More news to come at the beginning of 2020.”
This announcement marks the return to the top of endurance racing and the Le Mans 24 Hours for Peugeot, after eight years away. It was last seen back in 2011, where it competed in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (including the Le Mans 24 Hours) with diesel-powered 908 LMP1 cars.
“Superb news from Peugeot!” FIA WEC CEO Gerard Neveu said in reaction to the news. “We can’t wait for you to rejoin the FIA WEC family!
The brand was due to enter the FIA WEC in its inaugural season back in 2012 to compete against Audi and Toyota with a hybrid-powered 908 (Hybrid4), but pulled the plug on its program just weeks before the season opener at Sebring for financial reasons.
Peugeot stated that the “cost savings permitted by the WEC’s new Hypercar regulations and the confirmation that the series will feature hybrid power units led the Groupe PSA Executive Committee to approve the Peugeot brand’s proposal to participate in the world’s premier endurance racing championship from 2022.”
“I am very excited at the prospect of channeling the skills and passion of my team into this project,” said PSA Motorsport Director Jean-Marc Finot “It is a new challenge and I know our experts will rise to it with another demonstration of their will to win with teams financed by the Group’s brands, fueled by their long experience of top-flight FIA championships and hunger for success.”
Peugeot Brand Director Jean-Philippe Imparato added: “The changes that the FIA WEC is introducing fit now with the transition we are undergoing ourselves with the electrification of our range and the launch of high-performance products, developed in close association with PSA Motorsport and foreshadowed by the Concept 508 Peugeot Sport Engineered. These initiatives are completely in tune with Peugeot’s ‘Motion and E-motion’ brand signature.”
Peugeot Sport last won the Le Mans 24 Hours back in 2009, where it beat Audi Sport with a three-car effort with the 908.
Pierre Fillon, president of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), commented: “Today’s announcement is exciting for two reasons. It symbolizes both the arrival of a new competitor in the Hypercar category which will come into being from the start of next season, as well as the return of a leading brand in endurance racing. Peugeot has made history in terms of endurance racing and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, winning the event certainly, but also always producing spectacular machines, particularly appreciated by spectators. I can’t wait to see the French racing car that will take over from the winning 905 and 908.”
The announcement means that three major OEMs have signed up to Hypercar programs for the FIA WEC’s new top class. The other two are Toyota and Aston Martin, both of which are set to enter cars for the new ruleset in its inaugural season, beginning next year. American specialist brand Glickenhaus and former LMP1 team ByKolles have also stated publicly that they intend to compete in the Hypercar Prototype class.
WEC CEO Neveu added that he was optimistic Peugeot’s decision will encourage more manufacturers to consider a Hypercar program.
“What great news this is for everyone involved in endurance racing,” he said. “We are confident that their intention to compete in our new Hypercar category, alongside Aston Martin and Toyota, will encourage more manufacturers to commit to endurance racing. We are so happy and honored to welcome back a competitor and marque with such a great history of success as Peugeot has.”
It is not yet clear when Peugeot will begin racing its Hypercar. The 2022 calendar year is likely to feature the end of the 2021/22 FIA WEC season (with the Le Mans 24 Hours the season finale in June) and the beginning of the 2022/23 FIA WEC season.