PSA/Peugeot-Citroen has withdrawn its Peugeot brand from the 2012 season of the Le Mans endurance racing series, the most popular 24-hour car race in the world. Peugeot explained that it pulled out from the race due to the "difficult economic environment" in Europe. This is a financially-motivated decision as the automaker’s share of new-car sales in Europe declined from 7.3 percent to 6.7 percent in the last year.
The pull-out guarantees that Audi brand will achieve a podium finish in the Le Mans again this year. In the last six races, Peugeot has been the one true competitor to Audi, which won five of the races. The latest victory of Peugeot in the Le Man was in 2009.
With Peugeot not represented in the race, it would be as if Audi is competing with itself in the 2012 season, considering that each top team enters three vehicles in the race. The scenario would look bad for the sport and boring for the fans.
By the end of this season, it might be sensible to dismiss the large purpose-built Le Mans prototype class 1 racing vehicles (LMP1) and to return to the set-up established when the race was born in 1923, with tuned variants of production-derived automobiles competing against each other.
Even in the present, one can find production-based BMW, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Chevrolet, Porsche and Lotus sports vehicles racing at Le Mans. However, these vehicles are limited to the less alluring LM GTE class. Many drivers of the LMP1 complain that production-based vehicles are too slow, creating a risky obstacle for their faster models to pass many times during the 24-hour race. [source: Autonews]