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2013-05-11 11:09

MASTER AND BEAST: Nine times World rally champion Sebastien Loeb has the task of taming the 652kW Peugeo 208 T16 Pikes Peak for the 2013 Pikes Peak Hill Cliimb on June 30, 2013. Image: NewsPress


2013 208 T16 Pikes Peak

2013-04-25 13:00

Peugeot Sport has pulled out a monster for World Rally champion Sebastien Loeb to take on the 2013 Pikes Peak Hill Climb on June 30, 2013.

Nine times World rally champion Sebastien Loeb has had his first taste of the 208 T16 Pikes Peak he will be driving in Colorado come June 30. Now he just needs to tame it...

The Frenchman believes he has the ultimate machine to help him win the famous ‘Race to the Clouds’. Let's hope the 652kW beast will sing to his song.

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According to Red Bull Motorsport, when Sebastien Loeb’s helicopter landed alongside the high-security track at La Ferté-Vidame in north-western France, he believed he was in for a routine test session but after just a couple of laps he realised what he was dealing with.

The rally star said: “The 208 T16 Pikes Peak is a rocket! It’s so powerful! The first time you drive it, each gear change practically stuns you. The shifts are really brutal and it takes a little time to anticipate the sudden jar. You get used to it but it was quite disorienting to begin with."

This is a man who's no stranger to challenges in the world of rally but Loeb was at another level after driving the 208 T16 Pikes Peak.


 “I’ve never driven anything that accelerates so fast!” he chimed. “In the lower gears, an F1 car doesn’t deliver maximum power. With the Peugeot it’s bang, bang, bang as you move up the box from standstill. Due to its all-wheel drive transmission and turbocharged engine, its pull-away performance is phenomenal.

“You find yourself in sixth gear at 240km/h in no time at all! Indeed, with a 0-100km/h time of 1.8sec, the 208 T16 Pikes Peak would leave any F1 car standing."

It is not only the gearbox which made a big impression the World rally champ. “Due to its aerodynamic downforce and wide tyres, its braking is amazing, too.

“The 208 package is a combination of the best of several worlds: it’s got the downforce of an F1 car, the wide tyres of an endurance racing prototype and a differential like a WRC car."

As the familiarisation process continued, Loeb was clearly won over by the unique experience: “I've driven many types of car but this is very, very different. Its acceleration, performance and stopping power are more like those of a F1 single-seater than a rally car. Its handling is fantastic as well; there’s so much grip and the all-wheel drive transmission makes it very stable. It’s got huge potential.”


Like any thoroughbred, the 208 T16 Pikes Peak will need to be broken-in but Loeb intends to approach the task with his ‘trademark calm’: “This track isn’t very wide and there aren’t any run-offs, so I’m taking things one step at a time. I don’t know what the car’s limits are but it was important to do this run on a circuit.

“We now have a better idea of where we stand and a better overview of the car’s potential. After that, the challenge will be to try to feel totally at one with the car on the Pikes Peak hill climb itself. That will take some work."

Loeb will need to be able to mster every buck and kick of the thoroughbred if he is to steer clear of the many pitfalls that await him along the giddy 20km mountain course on race day in Colorado.

Peugeot Sport has scheduled a busy test programme at circuits, on roads and at altitude as the next phase of this project which the multiple World champion finds particularly stimulating: “I really can’t wait to get to drive the 208 T16 Pikes Peak”.

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