READY TO BATTLE DAKAR 2016: Peugeot's experienced motorsport legends will battle the world's toughest race in the two-wheel drive 2008 DKR16 which uses a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 diesel engine. Image: Supplied
Sao Paulo - The Peugeot Total team has assembled a “dream team” in its quest for victory in the world’s toughest endurance race.
The French outfit scored a major coup by signing Sébastien Loeb, the greatest rally driver ever, alongside Dakar legends Carlos Sainz, Stéphane Peterhansel and Cyril Despres.
The four drivers, with a string of international motorsport titles among them, will compete in the latest evolution of the Peugeot 2008 DKR16, now longer, wider, lower and more powerful than its predecessor with a raft of improvements under the skin as well.
Modified Dakar challenger
The front and rear overhangs have been reduced and it benefits from improved aerodynamics. The bonnet and roof-mounted air-intake have been revised for more balanced downforce, and the new air scoop ensures better airflow.
The suspension has been redesigned to more effectively deal with the different terrain and it now benefits from better weight distribution with lighter magnesium one-piece wheels matched to lighter Michelin tyres.
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With the help of Peterhansel (an eleven-time Dakar winner), Sainz (a two-time world rally champion and also former Dakar winner) and Despres (a five-time Dakar winner on bikes) improvements were gradually applied and assessed.
This culminated in a one-two finish for Peterhansel and Despres on the recent China Silk Road Rally using an interim-specification car.
Despite a bigger air restrictor the 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbo diesel engine now has more power and driveability has also been increased, which will be particularly useful in twisty stages.
'I feel optimistic'
According to Peterhansel the car is now a lot more stable, so cornering speeds are faster: “You can feel the difference in the engine as well. Not only is it more powerful, but you can use all the power at low revs.”
Sainz added the car now has much more potential and is far more reliable: “We’ve changed quite a lot on the car, so we can call it a completely new car. I feel optimistic.”
Loeb, a nine-time world rally championship winner and the Pikes Peak record-holder, said Dakar is a great challenge, and while he doesn’t expect to match his more seasoned teammates, he hopes to draw on their experience to be competitive in his debut outing.
STAR-STUDDED: Peugeot's Dakar team features motorsport legends; Sebastien Loeb (left), the greatest rally driver ever, alongside Dakar legends Carlos Sainz (top), Stéphane Peterhansel (right) and Cyril Despres (bottom).