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Peugeot's return to top-level endurance racing should honor its illustrious past

Peugeot’s return to top-level endurance racing should honor its illustrious past

Peugeot won the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times between 1992 and 2009, so it must deliver upon its return in 2023

Peugeot, the proud manufacturer that stopped at nothing to win the grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans in the early ’90s and again in the late ’00s and early ’10s, will be back at Le Mans in the summer of 2023 as part of a fully-fledged assault on the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2022 onwards. Peugeot, like Toyota, will compete with a bespoke hybrid hypercar not based on a current production model and the work will be carried out in-house by Peugeot Sport, although it’s believed outside partners such as ORECA could offer some assistance. Peugeot will thus make its debut in the FIA WEC in the third season of the new ’Hypercar’ regulations that come into effect next year for the 2020-2021 season.

Peugeot Sport, first with Frenchman Jean Todt at the helm and then with his pal Olivier Quesnel, has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times since it first took part in the French race all the way back in 1926. The company has also enjoyed success as an engine supplier, powering the early Pescarolos as well as the WM P88 Group C car, the fastest car to ever race at Le Mans that reached a top speed of 253 mph in 1988. With almost a century of history at Circuit de la Sarthe by the time Peugeot Sport’s new hypercar will debut in 2022, it’s safe to say the French automaker set its own bar very high for its comeback. In the light of this challenge - one that the French engineers most definitely relish - let’s take a quick look back at Peugeot’s history at Le Mans and in endurance racing as a whole.

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1984 Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 Evolution 1 Group B

1984 Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 Evolution 1 Group B

The small rally 205 that shocked the world

The Peugeot 205 T16 is the 347-horsepower all-wheel-drive beast from France that had both Lancia and Audi down on their knees in the second half of the Group B era. It was driven by the likes of Ari Vatanen, Bruno Saby, Timo Salonen, and Juha Kankkunen.

The 205 T16, with ‘T16’ standing for ‘Turbocharged 16’ since the car was fitted with a KKK turbocharger and a 16-valve cylinder head, is arguably a strange case in motorsport. As one of the most successful rally cars of the astonishing Group B era, it is criminally overlooked. People idolize the Audi Quattro for its innovative four-wheel-drive system or the Lancia 037 which was the last rear-wheel-drive car to win the WRC constructor’s title, but the 205 remains the unsung hero.

It only debuted in 1984, in the third season since the Group B rules came into effect. This first model was known as the Evolution 1 and lacked the flamboyant, but efficient, aerodynamic elements of the Evolution 2. Unlike your usual 205 GTI, for instance, the rally car had the engine in the middle, and it featured a changeable epicyclic gear train that was used to alter the amount of power sent to either axle.

Once surpassing the inherent issues that arise after debuting a brand-new car, the Peugeot Talbot Sport outfit, led by none other than the future general manager of the Ferrari F1 team, Jean Todt, crushed everyone in its path winning 13 rallies between 1985 and 1986.

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2008 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP Le Mans Prototype

2008 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP Le Mans Prototype

Peugeot’s diesel ground-splitting Le Mans winner

The 908 HDI FAP was Peugeot’s first top-flight Le Mans prototype in over a decade and was designed to take on the might of Audi in sports car endurance racing on both sides of the Atlantic. It was a 750-horsepower diesel beast with over 850 pound-feet of torque that requires an army of men to run even today.

The mid-‘00s heralded the introduction of the LMP1 category at the top of the FIA/ACO prototype endurance racing ladder. This set of rules came in effect in 2004 as a replacement to the LMP900 rules, but older LMP900 machinery was to be grandfathered in Europe and the U.S. until 2006. The Peugeot 908, announced in 2005, debuted in 2007, one year later after Audi’s own diesel LMP1 car, and became the former’s biggest nemesis as the only other diesel prototype until the end of this era.

The 908, which changed quite a bit during its five-seasons-long racing career, was vastly quicker than the Audis almost anywhere, beating Team Joest and Audi Sport North-America both in the European Le Mans Series and the American Le Mans Series on numerous occasions. However, Le Mans glory was achieved only once, in 2009, when Peugeot Sport Total scored a historic 1-2 finish ahead of the brand-new Audi R15. Peugeot abruptly ended their involvement in global endurance racing before the kick-off of the new-for-2012 World Endurance Championship, although their hybrid 908 was already in testing and seemed to come together as a fine piece of kit.

Regardless, the French board decided that enough was enough and the P1 program was canned before the 908-HY could turn a wheel in anger. This led the way to Toyota’s hurried entry into the WEC midway through 2012, one year earlier than originally intended.

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2016 Peugeot L500 R HYbrid

2016 Peugeot L500 R HYbrid

A tribute car and futuristic concept all rolled into one

It was 100 years ago that Dario Resta and his Peugeot L45 averages a speed of 83.89 mph and won the Indianapolis 500 race of 1916. That was only one of three victories that Peugeot managed to attain between 1913 and 1919 at the Indy 500. Now in 2016, Peugeot has announced the Peugeot L500 R Hybrid to pay tribute to such an accomplishment and the “Charlatans” team that made it possible. The concept is said to be a “futuristic interpretation of the Indy Spirit” and a “racing concept for intense driving sensations.”

Matthias Hossann, Peugeot’s Concept Car and Technological Advance Chief, said, “With Peugeot L500 R Hybrid we’re paying tribute to Peugeot racing exploits dating to the early 20th century. Inspired by this spirit of performance and innovation we wanted to convey a sculptural, elegant and technological view of the future of Peugeot motorsport.”

Let’s be honest, at first glance this concept is highly futuristic but gorgeous at the same time. It features strong character lines, muscular wheel arches, and an impressive livery. In short, Peugeot took its time developing this concept and it looks amazing for that reason. With a long hood and a short tail, and a low profile that has this thing sitting low to the ground, it could, in theory, be a preview of what race cars in the future will look like. Of course, we have no idea how the future will unfold, but let’s take a good look at Peugeot’s new concept and see just how Peugeot sees the future of race cars and their design.

Continue reading to learn more about the Peugeot L500 R HYbrid.

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2016 Peugeot 2008 DKR16

2016 Peugeot 2008 DKR16

Peugeot has an impressively diverse history when it comes to motorsports. The company has participated in rallying, hill climbs, endurance racing, touring car racing, and supplied engines for Formula 1. Peugeot can lay claim to 4 WRC championships, 3 Le Mans wins, and 4 Dakar Rally wins. That’s quite the list already, but it seems that Peugeot would like to increase that last number, and has a car ready to compete in the 2016 Dakar Rally. That car is the 2008 DKR16, and despite its name, it has almost nothing in common with the regular road-going 2013 Peugeot 2008 crossover. However, it is based on last year’s Dakar machine, the 2014 2008 DKR.

This obviously isn’t uncommon though, and the 2015 Mini All 4 Racing that currently dominates the rally has little in common with Mini’s road cars either. It’s a shame though, because back when Peugeot first started winning Dakar Rallies, the 205 T16 cars that were used were much more closely related to something you could find at a dealership, even if it was a homologation special. But Dakar is a grueling event, and if a company with a strong history in both rallying and endurance racing thinks that this is the vehicle it needs to win, then it’s probably right.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 Peugeot 2008 DKR16.

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2014 Peugeot 2008 DKR

2014 Peugeot 2008 DKR

While Peugeot is showcasing the "crude steel" Exalt concept car at the Beijing Auto Show, its motorsport division is releasing the details on the 2008 DKR, the company’s first vehicle to take on the grueling Dakar Rally in 25 years.

The French manufacturer retired from the said rally in 1990, after winning it four times in a row with desert-prepped versions of the 205 supermini and 405 sedan. Now, nearly a year after Sebastien Loeb crushed the Pikes Peak record in an all-carbon version of the 208, Peugeot is announcing its return to Dakar with a vehicle based on the 2008 crossover.

Actually, we need to rephrase that to "loosely based on" the road-going vehicle, as the 2008 DKR has very little in common with the said crossover, save for the numeric name and a few design cues.

To be fielded under the colors of Team Peugeot Total in the 2015 Dakar, which is scheduled to begin next January, the 2008 DKR buggy will be driven by Carlos Sainz and Cyril Despres. Both have already won the rally, but while Sainz did it while driving a Volkswagen Touareg-based racer, Despres won the even riding KTM motorcycles.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2014 Peugeot 2008 DKR.

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Rally Co-Driver, Gareth Roberts, Killed in a Racing Accident

Rally Co-Driver, Gareth Roberts, Killed in a Racing Accident

As auto enthusiasts, we all often dream about racing cars professionally and how sweet it must be to navigate these powerful machines to within inches of the bounds of physics. Well, unfortunately, we tend to overlook the fact that with all of that risk comes the potential for severe injury and even death. Unfortunately, we experienced the risk involved in car racing this weekend as up-and-coming rally co-driver, Gareth Roberts, perished in a crash at the young age of 24.

Gareth was in his typical position in the Peugeot 207 Super 2000 that Craig Breen was piloting in the Targa Florio-Rally Internazionale Di Sicilia, rattling off the upcoming track directions and related speeds when Breen lost control of the Peugeot and put it into a guardrail. According to reports, Gareth was impaled by the guardrail and lost his life as a result of the injuries.

According to statements from teammates and crew members, Breen and Gareth had been really working well with one another and were starting to garner a lot of attention in the rally world. Gareth also had a bright future as a driver, once he learned the necessary skills, but that unfortunately, never came to fruition.

We are deeply saddened by the death of this young man and pass our condolences onto his family, friends, and his racing team. This is really a reminder of just how dangerous racing truly is, especially rally racing, and we hope that the rally world can learn from this tragedy and make strides toward this type of thing not happening again.

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Audi Launches "Truth in 24 II"

Audi Launches "Truth in 24 II"

The Le Mans 24 Hours races may not be the pinnacle of the racing world, but they certainly separate the men from the boys and women from the little girls. For the most part, over half of the field ends up retiring before the race ever finishes and the ones that do finish are completely exhausted – both car and drivers – by the time the race ends.

Audi has seemingly always been a part of the Le Mans 24 Hours and has earned tons of success in the race. In the 2011 running, Audi was set up to fail, as two of its three cars were forced to retire early due to freak accidents on the track. Truth in 24 II, narrated by none other than British bad-ass action star Jason Statham, documents the running of the 2011 Le Mans 24 Hours race and how the last remaining Audi managed to overcome all of the competition, including three Peugeot 908s, to take home the overall No. 1 position.

What’s even more awesome is that Audi is providing both Truth in 24 and Truth in 24 II completely free of charge. You can download the debut Truth in 24 here, if you haven’t seen it yet, and then snag up Truth in 24 II here. It’s not too often that an automaker gives you something this cool for free, so take advantage of these free movies while you can. They are simply awesome.

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2012 Peugeot 208 R2 Rally Car

2012 Peugeot 208 R2 Rally Car

Just recently we showed you how Peugeot was using a painfully limber dancer to help sell its newest vehicle, the 208. Peugeot has now released that there has been a new model of the 208 that has been in production since it became a concept. This new model is the 208 R2 Rally Car.

What’s better is that Peugeot is not only using this model as the replacement for the 207 Super 2000, but the French automaker is also offering this FIA-approved rally car for sale to the general public. That’s right, if you are looking to get into rally racing, you can walk into a Peugeot dealership, actually the Peugeot Sport Racing Shop, lay down a large sum of money and walk out owning a “rally ready” hatchback.

With some certainty we can say that the chances of the 2013 208 R2 Rally Car having the exact same specifications as Peugeot’s actual rally model are very low. Having said that, this model comes already certified and you can jump into lower level rally races and possibly take home some cash prizes.

Click past the jump to read our full review.

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Peugeot unexpectedly quits Le Mans

Peugeot unexpectedly quits Le Mans

Talk about a bombshell.

French automaker and Le Mans powerhouse PSA Peugeot Citroen has announced that Peugeot will be dropping out of Le Mans racing indefinitely. The news was first reported by Reuters, saying that the French manufacturer will be solely concentrating all their efforts on improving their sales figures for 2012, thus dropping any other endeavors, including in motorsports.

In a press release sent to the media, Peugeot confirmed this stunning turn of events, saying that "this decision has been taken against the backdrop of the challenging economic environment in Europe coupled with a particularly busy year for the Brand in terms of new vehicle launches."

The news that Peugeot is dropping out of Le Mans comes as a shock to a lot of racing fans, particularly those that have seen and witnessed the company’s recent dominance in the series, as well as its well-chronicled rivalry with Audi.

We’re not quite sure how the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans is going to play out now that one of the perennial contenders has withdrawn their entry to the field, but Audi is probably uncorking a bottle of champagne.

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A spotter's guide on the cars running at the 2011 12 Hours of Sebring

A spotter’s guide on the cars running at the 2011 12 Hours of Sebring

Are you ready to have your 2011-racing itch finally scratched? With the 2011 Formula One season getting delayed by political unrest in Bahrain, the racing community turns its attention to the opening of the 2011 American Le Mans racing season this weekend with one of the most iconic endurance races in the world, the 12 Hours of Sebring.

Always one of the most eagerly anticipated races of the year, the 12 Hours of Sebring kicks off the 2011 ALMS season in grand fashion with the reigning champs from Peugeot Sport Total ready to defend their 2010 title against a field of heavyweight contenders, including headlined perennial contender, Audi, and last year’s runner-up, Aston Martin.

This year, Peugeot will be bringing the new Peugeot 908 HDi FAP to compete against the likes of the Audi R15+TDI and the Aston Martin Lola B08.

In addition to the top-of-the-field LMP1 class, the 2011 12 Hours of Sebring will also feature races from a number of different classes, including the new LMPC class, led by PR1 Mathiasen M/Sport’s Oreca FLM09, and the always-competitive GT class, which has a formidable entrant in the form of the recently-revealed Risi Competizione’s new Ferrari 458 GTC.

To keep you updated with all of the cars scheduled to participate in all of the weekend’s races, the folks over at SpotterGuides.com have provided everything you need to know about each and every car that will see the green light this weekend. Keep tabs on some of the favorites and be on the look-out for dark horses, because this weekend’s 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race is expected to be one for the books.

If you’re going to keep tabs on all the action from the confines of your own home, you can watch the race in its entirety online on ESPN3.com, or if you have an Xbox, you can catch the action through live streaming. If you miss out on watching the race live, ABC will have a recap from 12:30 – 2:00 pm EST with ESPN2 airing the same recap show next Tuesday, March 22, 2011.

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Video: Last lap 2009 24 Hours of Lemans

Things didn’t turn out as well as Dr. Ulrich and the rest of Team Audi would have liked, but at least an R15 made it onto the podium. It was a sight to see all three Peugeot 908s regroup for the final laps of the 24 hour race, in order for that oh so important photo finish after so many years of trying. Things didn’t turn out exactly as we predicted:

Like you saw in the video, a Peugeot 908 took the overall win as well as the LMP1 trophy. In the smaller LMP2 category Team Essex’s Porsche RS Spyder took home first place in its category. Johny O’Connel won his 4th 24 Hour Title behind the wheel of a Chevrolet Corvette Risi Competizione taking the GT2 win for the second year in a row, in the same Ferrari F-430.
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24 Hours of Le Mans: Peugeot on pole with Audi not far behind

24 Hours of Le Mans: Peugeot on pole with Audi not far behind

It is mid-June, the Nurburgring 24 has passed and the endurance race fans from around the world are gathering at the Circuit de la Sarthe in France. That is because this Saturday and Sunday, June 13 and 14 racing greats from around the world are competing in the 2009 24 Hours of Le Mans. The race twice around the clock includes vehicles from the ALMS as well as the LMS racing series which are made up of two classes of GT, production car based racers, and two classes of prototypes, this year’s race will include 20 of the big boy LMP1 machines all fighting each other as well as lapped traffic for an overall win.

The big battles lately have been between Audi’s and Peugeot’s endurance racing teams at these events. The German automaker is competing in their all new R15 racecar and Peugeot is bringing back their 908, except this time it has Formula 1 derived KERS. Reports from the racetrack say that the Audi camp has gotten a hold of some unfound speed from their previous entrant, the R10. The four ringed automaker has an excellent track record at the epic endurance race, with an Audi engine winning every year since 2000. 2003 was the only year that an Audi R chassis didn’t take home the victory, that year Audi’s factory efforts lent their services to fellow members of the Volkswagen family, creating the Bentley Speed 8. Ever since 2006 Audi’s racing team has been taking advantage of the rules regarding diesel powered race cars, a trend that has caught on with Peugeot.

Continued after the jump.

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Peugeot 908 Le Mans

Peugeot 908 Le Mans

In 2007 Peugeot will be returning to the world’s automotive racing circuits at the highest level, after retiring from the WRC at the end of 2005. Announced on 14th June 2005 Peugeot’s Le Mans programme only really started once the last WRC test trial finished, in November 2005. Since then the Peugeot Sport team has been reorganised to produce a mock-up of the V12 HDi FAP engine in June 2006, followed by a mock-up of the 908 at the Paris Motor Show last September, and today it unveils the 908, (...)

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TopSpeed Headline News

TopSpeed Headline News

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