The Peugeot Motor Company has announced its 2002 Motor Sport programme, which focuses on rallying, the company withdrawing from the British Touring Car Championship.

The marque returned to the BTCC at the start of 2001, entering two - and sometimes three - 406 Coupes. The dramatic looking cars never had the pace to threaten the dominant Vauxhall Astras, the Peugeots only battling for the minor podium placings and never outright victory. The success of MG on their late season debut in the series must have been a further embarrassment.

The signing of WRC star Richard Burns to drive for the French parent company next season is a major factor in the budgetary decisions that have led to the BTCC withdrawal Burns' salary is thought to broadly matching the figure spent on a season in the BTCC, and the exploits of the Briton in the 206 WRC will gain Peugeot significant UK exposure.

The move will have an effect on the already cut-throat BTCC driver market, with Dan Eaves and Steve Soper now on the market and - certainly in Eaves's case, but maybe less so in Soper's - looking for 2002 drives. The Vic Lee Racing team which ran the 406s has been linked to a two car Lexus line-up in 2002.

Interestingly, the company have pledged to offer technical support to teams and drivers running 306, 307 and 406 models in any discipline.

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