World Rallycross electric future prompted major Peugeot commitment

Peugeot made its major new World Rallycross Championship commitment because it wanted to be fully competitive for an anticipated switch to electric power in 2020

World Rallycross electric future prompted major Peugeot commitment

Since World RX's inception in 2014, Peugeot has operated as Team Peugeot-Hansen in partnership with 14-time European champion Kenneth Hansen's firm in Sweden.

When it announced in October it would stay in RX - following doubts caused by Volkswagen's 2017 domination - Peugeot made clear rallycross's interest in an electric future was key.

World RX plans to introduce a separate electric category by 2020 at the earliest, with the American-based Global Rallycross Championship adding an electric class next season.

Peugeot Sport boss Bruno Famin said his team had to step up its rallycross commitment now, at the expense of promoting its SUV range with its successful Dakar Rally programme, to hit the ground running for the electric era.

"We decided to change discipline in order to change the communication, to switch more to electric rallycross," Famin told Autosport.

"That is the target for 2020 and to be efficient we have to be more involved in rallycross to be fully ready when we change the technology."

The RX cars will now be run and developed from Peugeot Sport's Velizy workshops.

Hansen was not mentioned when Peugeot announced its RX future, but Famin expects him to remain involved.

"We are going to keep working with Hansen most likely, but the job share will be quite different from where it was," Famin said.

"Kenneth is 'Mr Rallycross', I think it would be a big mistake not to have him in the team and our wish is to have him of course.

"He will be the sporting director, the guy in charge of making the team work with all the sporting aspects, with the organisers, the other teams and the drivers using his incredible know-how of rallycross."

Peugeot-Hansen was World RX teams' champion in 2015 but only won two events the following year and none in 2017 as VW swept the RX titles with Petter Solberg's PSRX team following its World Rally Championship exit.

"I think the [Peugeot] team and car were pretty good this year," Famin said. "Unfortunately Volkswagen came with the WRC car.

"They had the opportunity to do it. They had a rallycross engine from the GRC, it was just an opportunity do it for not a lot of money I'm sure.

"It was an opportunity they seized and I would have done the same for sure in that kind of situation.

"Now we have to react. Our goal in WRX is to win."

Though WRC legend Sebastien Loeb will continue with Peugeot in RX, the future of his 2017 team-mates - Hansen's sons Timmy and Kevin - is still uncertain, though Famin added "we have been very happy with the Hansen brothers".

Peugeot's 2018 RX line-up is unlikely to be finalised until after this month's Dakar.

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