ONE TO REMEMBER: Peugeot's 2008 DKR entry for the Dakar 2015. The company was the first manufacturer to enter the challenge in 1987. Image: Peugeot
• 2015 Dakar Rally Bluffer’s guide
• Why such a challenge?
• Peugeot Sport’s unbeaten record
PARIS, France - Peugeot, while ready to race in the 2015 Dakar Rally, also wants to write a new chapter in the amazing history at the event. Peugeot first entered in 1987, the first car manufacturer to do so.
Back then the automaker took on the unique challenges posed by the most gruelling endurance race on Earth and won first time out, following that achievement with three more wins with 205 and 405 T16 Rally Raid models.
The brand then switched allegiance before stopping to take on the equally tough Le Mans 24 Hours. As a manufacturer's entry, Peugeot Sport remains unbeaten in the Dakar.
IMAGE GALLERY: Peugeot's 2008 DKR and team 2015
For 2015, Peugeot is entering the Dakar with the 2008 DKR.
Which is cool, but do you know the background to the Dakar - and some statistics behind it? OK, so read on....!
1 It came about because someone got lost in a desert
The Dakar was dreamed up by motorcycle racer Thierry Sabine after he was lost in the southern part of the Sahara Desert during the 1977 Abidjan-Nice Rally.
Realising that navigating the remote sand dunes of a desert posed drivers and bike riders with a unique challenge, he organised the inaugural event which left Paris in December 1978. It gets its name from the capital of Senegal: the rally used to run 9977km from Paris to Dakar.
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Since 2009, due to civil unrest and bandits masquerading under various valiant titles in North Africa, particularly Mauritania, that country was abandoned and the race now runs through Argentina and Chile.
2 An endurance event like no other
The Dakar has been called the toughest rally in the world because it's both both a motor race and an orienteering challenge.
Like other rally raids, it’s an endurance event that takes place over much tougher terrain than regular rallies. This means vehicles must be true off-roaders rather than the high-performance versions of road cars that compete in conventional rallies.
3 Two weeks of action
The 2015 Dakar will start in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, on January 4 2015 and head into a 9000km route, some stages covering as many as 900km, visiting Bolvia and Chile, before the finish back in Buenos Aires on January 17.
4 How many take part?
In 2014, 431 competitors started the Dakar: 147 cars, 174 motorcycles, 40 quad bikes and 70 trucks. Entries were made up of 51 nationalities - the biggest entry mostly French (17%), followed by Dutch (13.5%) and Argentinians (12.6%). Of the 431 entries, 48% finished.
5 All-comers welcome
The Dakar is open to anybody with professional drivers and manufacturers pitting their wits and powers of endurance against amateurs. There are four categories: motorcycles, quad bikes, cars and trucks. All are either heavily modified or purpose-built.
The car class is for vehicles weighing less than 3500kg, trucks must be heavier than 3500kg.
6 In which class is Peugeot entered?
The Peugeot 2008 DKR is in the T1 Group for ‘Improved Cross-Country Vehicles’. This is sub-divided according to whether they’re petrol or diesel, two or all-wheel drive.
The T2 Group is made up of ‘Cross-Country Series Production Vehicles’. These are subdivided into petrol and diesel categories and tend to be all-wheel drive. Peugeot has chosen to run a turbo-diesel with two-wheel drive.
7 How many crew per car?
Each car has a driver and co-driver. Team Peugeot's drivers are Carlos Sainz (Dakar winner), Stéphane Peterhansel (record-breaking 11 Dakar wins) and Cyril Despres (5 Dakar wins).
Navigation is done by road books/maps issued the day before the stage and vehicles are watch through GPS.
8 Drivers and cars out on their own
Much of the route is off-road, covering dunes, mud, camel grass and rocks. For the past three years the Dakar has run some Marathon Stages for bikes and quad bike racers.
Since 2012, every competitors must endure the Marathon Stages. These run over two days during which vehicle crews can’t call on their teams to help fettle or fix their machines, sleeping in bivouacs makes it a unique event.
9 How Peugeot made history
Peugeot became the first automaker to compete when it entered the 1987 Paris-Dakar. It was rewarded by a win with former World Rally champion Ari Vatanen at the wheel of a 205 T16 Grand Raid.
His 1988 effort was derailed when, after 13 stages and holding a comfortable lead, his 405 T16 Grand Raid was stolen from a service area. The car was returned too late and Vatanen was disqualified, leaving team mate Juha Kankkunen to win in a 205 T16 GR.
Vatanen won again for Peugeot in 1989 with a 405 T16 GR. His third win came the following year, despite a faulty compass and ill co-driver.
10 Tragedy, terrorist, Thatcher’s son
The Dakar hit the headlines in the UK in 1982 when the then prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s son Mark and his co-driver disappeared for six days. They were eventually found unharmed.
The unforgiving nature of the terrain has led to a number of deaths of competitors and civilians, among the former founder Thierry Sabine who died when his helicopter crashed during a sand storm in the 1986 race.
In 2008 the Dakar was cancelled just before it was due to start because al-Qaeda-affiliated groups threatened to attack competitors.
It has run in South America ever since.
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