Peugeot exiting Le Mans racing effective immediately

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PSA Peugeot Citroën has announced the French automaker will leave Le Mans racing indefinitely. Reuters reports the manufacturer cites financial issues as the reason for the drastic move, saying Peugeot will now focus its efforts on improving its sales performance in 2012. For its part, Peugeot has issued an official statement confirming the development on its motorsports site, which you can read after the jump.

Peugeot is currently Europe's second-largest vehicle manufacturer, though the company has suffered a string of thinning profit reports in recent months. Last year, Phillippe Varin, Peugeot's chief executive, announced a plan to save the company $1.03 billion in 2012 through a variety of tactics, including 6,000 job cuts. We now know the company's impressive Le Mans racing effort is a casualty of cost savings as well.

Of all the rivalries in motorsports, few have been as entertaining or heated as the one that blossomed between Peugeot and Audi at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Peugeot swiped the crown from its German rivals in 2009 with its futuristic, diesel-powered 908 prototype, though Audi has won the legendary race seven out of the last eight years. That loss, however, forced Audi to abandon the open cockpit design of its R15 and earlier models in favor of a closed dome on the new R18.

Interestingly enough, Reuters reports Peugeot sister company Citroën won't turn its back on the World Rally Championship.

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Peugeot brings down the curtain on its endurance programme so as to ensure the success of its numerous launches in 2012

After 14 victories in the last 16 races, including a double at the Le Mans 24 Hours 2009 as part of the ILMC championship won by Peugeot two years running, in 2010 and 2011, the Brand has decided to close its 2012 endurance programme and will not be taking part in the next Le Mans 24 Hours.

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. In this context, Peugeot prefers to concentrate its 2012 resources on its commercial performance and, in particular, ensuring the successful launches of the 208, 3008 HYbrid4, 508 RXH, 508 HYbrid4 and 4008 which will take forward the Brand's strategy of moving upmarket and extending its global presence. In keeping with its social responsibility obligations and as part of the GPEC (forward management of jobs and skills) agreement signed by 5 trade unions, all of the employees concerned will be offered redeployment solutions within the Group thanks to a special system set up to oversee and lead occupational training/retraining as well as internal mobility.

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