You may remember how Peugeot came to Colorado in 2013 for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and demolished the course record. Now, the company sets its sights again on the Dakar rally. Perhaps, the most challenging off-road race in the world.
Peugeot brought exotic machinery, big budget, and extraordinary driving talent – Sebastien Loeb – to the Pikes Peak race. It’s no different for the 2015 Dakar. The company chose a team of three Peugeot 2008 DKR race cars. These are turbo-diesel powered, tube-frame, and purpose-built machines meant to withstand over 9,000 kilometers (5,593 miles) of off-road punishment through Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia.
The Peugeot Dakar race cars are powered by a 3.0L twin-turbo V6 diesel that makes 340 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque. The motor is placed in a mid-engine configuration, right behind the cockpit compartment. This allows for better weight distribution to make some of those big jumps and handle tight turns. Transmission is a manual sequential 6-speed. These cars can carry up to 105 gallons of fuel, spare tires, and a limited set of tools. The most intriguing thing is that Peugeot went with rear-wheel-drive only. Previous experience says that 4WD are quicker in the tight sections and are easier to get unstuck. The last six years were dominated by 4WD cars from Volkswagen and MINI factory teams.
Surely, Peugeot had good reasons to go with 2WD. They are no strangers to winning the Dakar. They won the event four consecutive years 1987-1990, when Ari Vatanen was the star.
There is no shortage of driving talent this time around. You have Stephane Peterhansel – 11 time Dakar winner. He won six times on a motorcycle and five times in a car. Next is the five-time Dakar winner – Cyril Despres. Cyril had all his wins on a motorcycle, and this is his first try in a custom-built race car. Closing out the trio is Carlos Sainz. He is a single Dakar winner as well as former World Rally Championship (WRC) champion. These three guys have decades of experience and seventeen Dakar wins between them. If anybody can put this Peugeot on top of the 2015 podium, it’s these guys. Can they sweep the podium in their first year?
Check out Sebastien Loeb tear the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.
Andre Smirnov is a life-long automotive enthusiast, software engineer, writer, and reporter. He has been writing and reporting at TFLcar since 2011.