The snowstorm of last week really threw off any posting efforts that I had, since I didn’t have access to constant internet. However when I finally got back to the modern world, I found myself hit with some shocking automotive news.
Peugeot had canceled it’s LeMans program. (They did it without consulting me first. That’s the real shocking part.)
So that’s it, the epic battle of the sport car world between the titans of Audi and Peugeot was over. Peugeot says that it’s because they wanted to focus on improving production car sales. (Standard line for massive manufacturers when they decide to pull out works programs.) I also feel like it has something to do with that the Germans have beaten the French to the flag five times in the last six LeMans races.
You got to know when you’re beaten.
However, what does this means for the fans?
From the spectator perspective, the removal of a pivotal team from a series like the Intercontential LeMans series would initially look bad. Peugeot knows how to go racing, and no matter what series they compete in they present impressive “works” programs which spend millions of dollars towards victory.
However Peugeot’s exit basically leaves one giant playing in the sandbox. Audi racing only with itself in LMP1 doesn’t help anyone. It never looks good for a sport to have just a single works team fighting amongst itself for overall victory. From the fan’s point of view, it looks like the works teams are just lapping, while lower categories are actually racing for victory.
So what this means is one of two things may occur in the coming year for in the sport-car endurance racing series:
- Another manufacturer will attempt to raise into the LMP1 category to attempt to challenge Audi for overall dominance. (Perhaps Honda/HPD? or one of the electric-powered sport prototype teams)
- The focus of the sport will lean more towards the GT Categories of racing, as prototype teams are replaced with more GT Racing competitors.
I would personally hope for the latter. I think that the production-based racecars of the GT Category capture more of the essence of what LeMans was initially founded on.
A reduced field of prototype cars also means that the number of situations with large delta of cornering speeds of cars when in lapped traffic will be reduced. It would improve the safety of the drivers during close battles in endurance racing.
For example: We would be less likely to see accidents like Alan McNish’s terrifying crash into a Ferrari 458 GT2 during last year’s LeMans, where the cornering speeds where in delta of 50 miles an hour at time of the collision.
A closer field means better racing, and that’s never a bad thing, right?
So maybe it’s ok that the French have taken a break. They may have just made sports car racing better for everyone.