Peugeot abruptly exits Le Mans ahead of 2012 season for financial reasons image

Peugeot will not enter this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours race, the automaker announced today.

The French car manufacturer said it had pulled out of the new FIA world endurance championship for financial reasons. “This decision has been taken in the context of a difficult economic environment in Europe. Peugeot has chosen to concentrate resources on its sales performance in 2012,” read the statement posted on the company website.

Peugeot’s last victory at Le Mans was in 2009. Last year its diesel cars finished second, third, fourth and fifth behind the number two Audi. The German brand has won the race 10 times in the last 12 years. PSA Peugeot Citroen, Europe’s second-biggest carmaker, is struggling to cut costs and revive sales after a series of profit warnings. In October, CEO Philippe Varin announced plans to save an additional 800 million euros this year, including some 6,000 job cuts.

FIA president Jean Todt, former manager of Peugeot’s winning Le Mans team in 1992, was disappointed by the decision. “To lose such a strong player like Peugeot is bad news, indicating what a tough period the automotive industry is going through, and this group in particular,” he said in a statement.