Peugeot announces 2001 BTCC challenger

Peugeot has pulled off a BTCC coup with the announcement that it will make its return to the series with the 406 Coupe rather than the widely tipped new 307

Peugeot announces 2001 BTCC challenger

"This will be the car of the series in 2001," said Peugeot Sport motorsport manager Mick Linford, as he made the announcement at the Motor Show's Motorsport Day. "It is going to win races and we will break our duck at the top level in the BTCC."

Linford admitted that lack of time to prepare a race version of the 307 (which has not yet been launched as a road car) was one reason for his decision, but insisted that when all marketing and practical considerations were considered the 406 Coupe proved his best choice.

Most manufacturers interested in the series had been looking at cars smaller than the outgoing crop of Super Tourers, but Peugeot team manager Vic Lee is not worried by the Coventry outfit's decision to go against the trend. "The image of the car is good," said Lee "and obviously we have done a lot of work checking how to get the best suspension package; it's in that car. The geometry on that is much better than what we've been used to this year [on the hugely successful Super Production 306 GTi-6]."

Marketing advantages of the Coupe programme are thought to include giving a substantial boost to a revised version of the 406 Coupe which will be launched before the start of the 2001 season.

There is as yet no news on who Peugeot's drivers will be in 2001 or how the planned two extra semi-works cars will be run. "If you push me," said Linford, "I would guess that we will be in a position to announce drivers by the end of November. But how many there are and who also depend on what conclusion we come to when we look at the way to run the additional two cars with a very strong link to ourselves. That's dependent on finance."

Linford indicated that should the right financial package be secured he would like to use a mix of established BTCC drivers and up-coming National Saloon Championship pilots in the four cars.

The first BTCC 406 Coupe is not likely to start testing until February 2001.

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