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'15 Dakar: Peugeot lion to roar again

2014-03-27 11:21

LION RETURNS: Spain's Carlos Sainz drives a Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 from Dakar days of 25 years ago on March 26 in Paris. Peugeot will compete in the 2015 Dakar - its first entry in a quarter-century. Image: AFP


PARIS, France - French automaker Peugeot will compete in the 2015 Dakar Rally - it's first entry in 25 years.

Rally director Etienne Lavigne unveiled details of the coming race during a news media conference and said: "We welcome the return of the lion (Peugeot symbol) to the Dakar."

Peugeot was dominant in the gruelling rally in the late 1980's when it was still run in North Africa. The brand won four times from 1987 but pulled out in 1990.

Spain's former World Rally champion Carlos Sainz (51); France's five-times Dakar bike champion Cyril Despres (39) and another yet unnamed driver - possibly Dakar legend and 11-times winner Stephane Peterhansel - will each be driving a Peugeot 2008.


Peugeot's sport director Bruno Famin said: "Sainz is an extremely experienced driver, an exceptional man with an incredible charisma." Despres, he added, was "going to switch from two to four wheels and will bring us relative youth".

According to Peugeot director Maxime Picat: "We are committed for several years with humility regarding the event and our rivals but also to win starting from 2015."

In a statement Peugeot said its return "recalls a particularly successful period in the history of the French team which made an indelible mark on the Dakar by winning the legendary competition four years running - 1987 to 1990".

The 2015 Dakar will start and end in the capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires, but also cover 9000km through Chile and Bolivia. Lavigne said: "Marathon stages in every category, for motorbikes and quads like in 2014 but also for cars and truck will be introduced to increase the difficulty and interest in the 2015 edition.

"Car (and truck) drivers will be auto-sufficient for two days, they'll sleep in the same conditions as motorbike riders. They won't have any outside help or mechanical or logistical support.

"It'll be interesting to see the top drivers tackling these basic conditions."

Once again the rally will take in Chile's Atacama desert, the driest place on earth, and cross the Andes mountain range twice. It will run from January 4-17, the 37th staging of a race that started as the Paris-Dakar Rally and the seventh event in South America.

The Dakar Rally has been targeted in the past by environmentalists but on this issue Lavergne commented: "The environment, far from being a problem, is one of our priorities. The Dakar is staged where it is allowed to be staged (by the local authorities)."

The 2014 rally, which involved cars and motorbikes, quads and trucks, started in Rosario in Argentina and finished in Valparaiso in Chile. Nani Roma of Spain in a Mini won the cars section and Marc Coma of Spain on a KTM won the motorcycle event.

Read more on:    peugeot  |  paris  |  france  |  rally  |  motorsport

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