David Brabham, Australia’s most recent Le Mans 24-Hour winner, was disappointed to hear of Peugeot’s immediate withdrawal from Sportscar racing.
Brabham won the classic endurance race in 2009 driving a Peugeot and has maintained close ties with both the manufacturer and many of its staff.
While the announcement took the motor racing fraternity by surprise, a 6.1 percent decline in car sales across Europe last year and a challenging economic environment sees the French manufacturer focusing on improving its global commercial performance.
“I did hear some time ago that Peugeot were in trouble, but I thought that they may have done Sebring and Le Mans, so it is sad to see the program shut down,” David Brabham told Speedcafe.com
“The Peugeot company has to get its house in order, they have lost direction and need to restructure.
“They are in a tough market for their price range and they haven’t fared well.
“When you have to let go thousands of employees, it doesn’t look good for Peugeot to be spending millions on a racing program, particularly in France.”
Peugeot’s latest Sportscar programme goes back to 2007; in that time it had success at Le Mans, winning the race in 2009, and it won back-to-back Intercontinental Le Mans Cups (now known as the World Endurance Championship) in 2010 and 2011, including 14 victories in the last 16 races.
“Peugeot will look back at the last several years and be extremely proud of their achievements,” said Brabham.
“To go against Audi and beat them like they did just shows what a good job they did.
“The car was fast and the people there were super competitive.
“It was a big team, but one thing was for sure, they were so focussed on going fast, I enjoyed working with them.”
While Peugeot won’t be at the Le Mans 24-Hour race in the foreseeable future, Brabham believes it is just a matter of time before the world sees it back on the Sportscar grid.
“Manufacturer involvement in the Sportscar programme always goes in cycles,” said Brabham.
“It goes in cycles and I have seen my share of them, but I hope they will return.
“A lot will depend on the Peugeot car company and how they perform over the next several years.”
With one Le Mans door closing for Peugeot, another has opened for Brabham, with the Aussie ex-pat recently signing with JRM Racing to race in the World Endurance Championship, including the Le Mans 24-Hour race.
“I am absolutely thrilled to be part of JRM’s LMP1 programme,” said Brabham.
“I can’t wait to get started!”
CLICK HERE to read about David Brabham’s return to Le Mans.
2009 Peugeot interview with David Brabham