K close, lion dead: January 18th In 2012, Peugeot pulled the plug from the sports car range. The lights in the sports department in Vélizy now go out. For a good 30 years, the department has operated almost uninterruptedly and with great success in motorsport - Le Mans, Formula 1, rallying, touring cars. A great era is coming to an end.
The stab in the back didn't come out of nowhere
Some seemed to have premonitions, like Alexander Wurz. The Austrian switched from Peugeot to Toyota on November 7, 2011 with flying colors. Had he smelled the roast? He claims: “No, I didn't know anything.”
In retrospect, it now turns out that the fire was actually smoldering longer. After the Peugeot bubble burst in January, various sports bosses revealed in private conversations that they had been receiving strange job requests from technicians at the Peugeot camp since late summer 2011.
Peugeot was not prepared for the exit
The rhetoric of the Peugeot press opposition tries to set another track: The money saved will be used to develop the new hybrid models of the year To push in 2012. What a humbug! After all, how could such a model offensive have been accompanied more effectively than with a global sports car program with hybrid technology? The crazy reason shows that you were not prepared for the exit - not even at Peugeot. By no means all Peugeot factory drivers were informed of the withdrawal in advance and only found out about the drama from journalists. Can one treat deserving employees worse and more disrespectfully than Peugeot did?
The sports department in Vélizy plowed and tinkered at full throttle until the end in order to beat Audi 2012. Almost as if one did not want to admit what was brewing. Because at the same time, the corporate headquarters pushed ahead with the exit. The PSA subsidiary Peugeot is not doing well - high losses, weak sales, especially in Europe. A new chief executive was enthroned on January 4th, whose austerity targets enraged the powerful French unions. Peugeot will have to close production plants in the next few months and lay off several thousand employees. This cannot be done in France without the consent of the trade unions.
The syndicalists demanded austerity from the board in other areas as well. Number 1 on theThe prank agenda was the prototype program, which eats up a high double-digit million amount every year. And if you pull the plug before the closing date, you will save even more money: 300,000 euros for the registration fee, for example. Hence the hasty rush on January 18, 2012. Incidentally, contrary to press reports, a return can definitely be ruled out.
The Peugeot era in motorsport
What testimony can one give to the sports car graduate Peugeot ? The arrival of the French in 2007 ended Audi’s dull dominance. The Ingolstadt-based company needed four prototype model series (R10; R15; R15 Plus; R18) to counter the speed advantage of the elegant French LMP projectiles. With the Le Mans victory in 2009, Peugeot was also able to tick off the major sporting goal. The factory team improved step by step. In the early years, of course, there were also bucks: in terms of strategy, driver selection, pit stops, reliability and much more. Bruno Famin, the technical director and strong man in the Peugeot works team, swept out one construction site after the other.
In the last two years, the French have been able to present an almost immaculate white vest: 14 victories in 16 races - and that against the long-term dominator Audi. It's just stupid that you failed twice in a row at Le Mans, primarily because of your own mistakes.
Peugeot still had a bright future ahead of them. Not a few experts considered the driver line-up to be better or at least more homogeneous than that of Audi. And for 2012 the French wanted to burn off a real firework of technology, as is now gradually being leaked: the Frenchies already drove at the 2011 ILMC final in Zhuhai with a VTG turbocharger and a new Quickshift transmission for faster gear changes. In the winter, the chassis was significantly modified after just one year to accommodate the hybrid system with rear axle KERS, to adjust the weight distribution and to lower the center of gravity. The package was to be rounded off by a common rail system with higher injection pressure and radical optimization of the aerodynamics. With the V8 engine, the regulation-related power loss for 2012 could be reduced by half.
Headless exit from Peugeot is a shame
In back-to-back tests in Paul Ricard, the new car with hybrid was 1.5 seconds faster than its predecessor right away, despite the engine restrictions . In a 33-hour test in January, the car drove the distance with almost no problems, apart from a problem with the starter. From this point of view, too, Peugeot's headless exit is a shame, especially since the necessary investments in competitiveness have already been made.
Speaking of headless: The French Signatech team already had a contract to field two cars in the World Cup. Cost point: 5 million euros. A few days agoThe contract had to be renegotiated because the ACO only wanted to allow a privately used Peugeot. As soon as the ink under the contract was dry, the board pulled the stopper.
The French have earned and earned a lot of respect in five years on the racetrack battlefield. They have never been popular: they continually accused the ACO of being friends with Audi and imagined a conspiracy or ruse behind every technical bulletin.
There was little sense of French charm in dealing with media representatives. Non-French felt consistently as unwelcome guests, the drivers were muzzled tight. Bruno Famin remained the positive exception: the technical director returned good questions with disarming openness and witty aperçus. We will soon see Famin and his pilots in different clothes in the paddock. The scene doesn't have time to give away quality. And what is left for Peugeot? Bad roar, lion.