Peugeot’s endurance racing program managed to achieve the seemingly impossible by ending Audis long-term dominance of the sport. Taking a page from Audi’s playbook, the diesel-powered Peugeot 908 dominated the 2009 24 Hours of Le Mans, and won the overall ILMC championship in 2010 and 2011.

The team managed to amass an impressive 14 victories in the last 16 races, and all signs pointed towards continued dominance in 2012. That’s why Peugeots announcement that it’s abandoning endurance racing to focus on new product launches comes as such a surprise.

Peugeot frames its decision “against the backdrop of the challenging economic environment in Europe,” coupled with a “particularly busy year” for new vehicle introductions. The brand will roll out some five new vehicles in 2012, including two new hybrid offerings.

As Reuters reports, Peugeot is struggling to cut costs, and has plans to shed some 6,000 jobs in 2012. Combined with other cuts, the move will help Peugeot trim some 800 million euros ($1.03 billion) from its 2012 operating expenses.

It's unclear how much money will be saved by eliminating the Le Mans Championship effort, and Peugeot promises to redeploy team members into new positions wherever possible.