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Will Peugeot return to Le Mans?
Cast your mind back to 2011, and the summer showdown between Audi and Peugeot at Le Mans: two sporting giants, each trading incessant blows for nigh on 24 hours up until the very last lap. It was like Frazier vs Ali, only with slightly more carbon fibre.
Sadly, it marked the end of Peugeot’s participation because soon after, it announced its withdrawal. Speaking to TG.com at the time, even archrivals Audi conceded that the La Sarthe landscape would be a very different place.
“It was like a bereavement in a way ” Audi driver Allan McNish told us. “There’s nobody who benefits from them leaving,” his colleague and Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen concurred. “Porsche and Toyota are coming so racing is always developing, but our good competitive fights with our friends from France will be missed.”Well, at this year’s Shanghai Motor Show, we sat down with new boss Maxime Picat, who pointed out that the desire to return to Le Mans still burns within French loins. The only problem is money.
He pointed towards the end of 2014 before the company could start to be solvent, but noted that it might not necessarily be Le Mans the company returns to.
“Le Mans is a thing we love to do,” he said, “but we had to stop it for evident economic reasons. As for when we will be able to go back in competition? We have to assess at that time what is a good competition, and it might be different. We’ll see.”
He pointed to Peugeot returning to Pikes Peak, which should have roused the more distinguished readers of TopGear.com into a sideways fever - remember that video of Vatanen? Picat does. “We already announced that this year we will once again go to Pikes Peak, more excellent proof of the co-operation between Peugeot and Citroen. The driver will be Sebastien Loeb, the nine times world rally champion. Don’t forget, we have that wonderful story of Ari Vatanen in 1988 and also in 1989, so it will be very nice to go back. We’ve got the wonderful 208 prepared by our teams at Peugeot Sport that Sebastien will try very soon, and we hope that we can win that race.”
We’ll be keeping a very close eye on Pug’s return, not least because it gives us a legitimate reason to republish Vatanen’s awesome run up the hill. But, should Peugeot return, or will Toyota and Porsche sate your appetite for some Big Guns?