► Peugeot’s monster new 2008 DKR16
► 9-time WRC champ Loeb to drive
► Bewildering A-Team themed promo vid
Something tells us Peugeot really wants to win the 2016 Dakar rally. Not only has it comprehensively overhauled its 2008 DKR challenger (and made it look even more menacing than ever in the process), it’s signed an all-star driver line-up to pilot it, including a certain Sébastien Loeb.
Loeb is the most successful WRC driver of all time, winning nine world championships (and a scarcely credible 46% of all the World Championship rallies he ever started). The Frenchman is currently enjoying a quiet retirement driving (and winning races) for Citroen in the World Touring Car Championship at weekends. He’s got form in fast Peugeots, smashing records at the infamous Pikes Peak hillclimb in 2013 at the wheel of the 875bhp 208 T16.
WRC veteran – but Dakar novice
Loeb has driven everything from Le Mans cars to F1 machinery, but has never competed in a Rally Raid event like the Dakar before. ‘The Dakar is completely different from the racing I’m doing at the moment,’ he says. ‘It will be very long, over two weeks, and you need to have the endurance to look after the driver and the car. I’ve been used to having very detailed pace notes [but] in Cross Country, you have to find the road for yourself and improvise your route. This is actually the first time I have driven any type of diesel car in competition too. So there is a lot for me to learn.’
Peugeot endured a difficult return to endurance rallying in the 2015 Dakar, won by Nasser Al-Attiyah in a Mini Countryman (or something that roughly resembled one). The 2016 event will run across several thousand miles through Bolivia and Argentina across all types of terrain in January 2016. (The Dakar no longer races to the Senegal city it's named after since terrorism concerns forced the relocation of the race in 2008.)
The car: Peugeot 2008 DKR16
Nominally a 2008 but sharing precisely zero components with Peugeot’s compact crossover, the Peugeot 2008 DKR16 is a comprehensive redevelopment of last year’s challenger. Powered by a diesel-fuelled V6 with 350bhp driving the rear wheels, it’s been made longer, wider and lower to aid stability, shorn of overhangs to help it scramble over obstacles and suspension travel has been increased to an enormous 460mm.
‘In the WRC I have been used to going around obstacles, but with this car you can just drive straight over them and it takes some time to have the confidence to believe it,’ says Loeb. Quite.
Who are Loeb’s teammates?
There are three of them, each with less-than-shabby CVs. Stephane Peterhansel has won the Dakar an incredible 11 times and Cyril Despres five times in the motorcycle class before making the switch to four wheels. They’re joined by another WRC legend (and now F1 driver dad) Carlos Sainz, former WRC teammate to Loeb at Citroen. Providing further evidence to the well-established theory that great drivers don’t necessarily make great actors, Peugeot Sport and sponsors Red Bull have cooked up the so-bad-it’s-good A-Team ripoff promo video below, featuring a cigar-toting star turn from Sainz and plenty of not-so-subtle product placement. Enjoy: