Mercedes un­veils pow­er­house as Peu­geot bows out of Le Mans

Yorkshire Post - Motoring - - NEWS -

MOST pow­er­ful Mercedes SLK so far? Nat­u­rally, the lat­est, the 55 AMG, with a 415bhp un­blown 5.5 litre petrol V8 giv­ing 0-62mph in 4.6 sec­onds, 33.6mpg and 195g/km CO2.

De­tails in­clude a sev­en­speed au­to­matic gear­box, and the 30 per cent econ­omy/co2 sav­ing by shut­ting down two cylin­ders on each bank at low throt­tle, plus stop-start ig­ni­tion.

There is the nec­es­sary high per­for­mance chas­sis and brake mod­i­fi­ca­tion, 18in wheels and a not-too-scary price of £54,950. Fur­ther han­dling and driver packs and a top speed de-lim­iter are of­fered.

Peu­geot’s chase for fur­ther glory at the Le Mans 24 Hour Race ended this week with the de­ci­sion to stop long-dis­tance sports car rac­ing for fi­nan­cial rea­sons af­ter five years. “This de­ci­sion has been taken in the con­text of a dif­fi­cult eco­nomic environment in Europe,” said the com­pany.

Life is tough for the Peu­geot-citroen group, with cost sav­ings and ef­fi­ciency more vi­tal than chas­ing the che­quered flag. Peu­geot won Le Mans twice in the 1990s and then in 2009 broke Audi’s diesel dom­i­na­tion with its own diesel racer. In 2010 and 2011 it had near misses, tak­ing podium places be­hind Audi. Jean Todt, pres­i­dent of the gov­ern­ing In­ter­na­tional Au­to­mo­bile Fed­er­a­tion who man­aged Peu­geot’s team when it won Le Mans in 1992 and 1993, was dis­ap­pointed by the de­ci­sion, re­ports Reuters.

“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. “I be­lieve that it is es­pe­cially true that in tough times one should find ways of ex­press­ing full com­mit­ment, rather than pulling out.”

The Au­to­mo­bile Club de l’ouest, which runs the race, said it “deeply re­grets the de­par­ture of the French man­u­fac­turer just at the mo­ment when, with the cre­ation of the new FIA World En­durance Cham­pi­onship, the fu­ture of en­durance rac­ing looks more pres­ti­gious than ever.” That said, the ACO had been ap­ply­ing stiffer hand­i­caps year af­ter year to limit the ad­van­tage of diesel power. Toy­ota has an­nounced its re­turn to the 24-hour race af­ter a 13-year ab­sence, us­ing a petrol hy­brid racer.

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