NEXT STOP PORTUGAL FOR THE PEUGEOT 208 WRX ON THE FIA WORLD RALLYCROSS CHAMPIONSHIP

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Fri, 20/04/2018 - 17:00
WRX Round #2/12 – Montalegre, 28-29.04
 
After a fighting 2nd place for Sébastien Loeb on the incident-packed season-opener in Barcelona, the PEUGEOT Total squad keeps up its efforts behind the scenes and looks forward to doing even better in Portugal next weekend; but Montalegre will be a very different challenge for the PEUGEOT 208 WRX.


  • Team PEUGEOT Total made a stunning debut on the FIA World Rallycross Championship in Barcelona, with multi-talented champion Sébastien Loeb finishing 2nd in the final, and Timmy Hansen proving to be one of the best performers before being stopped in his tracks by an electrical problem in the semi-final that he was leading. Up-and-coming star Kevin Hansen drives the third PEUGEOT 208 RX (which is not eligible to score points for the team) and also showed plenty of promise. Now, the French squad heads for a very different challenge at the Montalegre circuit in northern Portugal, with the firm aim of matching the car’s obvious speed with even better consistency.
     
  • Montalegre’s dedicated rallycross circuit is located close to the town of the same name, in the hills of the Villa Real region close to the border with Spain. The track is 945 metres long and begins with a long straight down to the first corner hairpin, where the joker lap continues straight on. The rest of the track consists of a sequence of sinuous left and right turns, firstly on asphalt before changing to gravel. The lap is 60% asphalt and 40% gravel, with the lap record standing at just 37.802s from last year.
     
  • After Barcelona, the cars returned to base in Versailles, France, and were re-prepared, but there has not been time for any extra development. Currently, Sébastien Loeb and Timmy Hansen sit 6th and 7th respectively in the FIA WRX drivers’ championship, while Team PEUGEOT Total is 3rd in the team standings.

Bruno Famin, PEUGEOT Sport Director
“We’ve had a positive start to the year but I’m not sure if Portugal will be as suited to our car as Spain was, especially if it rains. In this case, conditions can quickly get very slippery and difficult. The cars in Montalegre will be in the same specification as Barcelona. In the meantime, we’ve concentrated on analysing the issues that affected us on the first round to find some solutions. For example, we’ve reinforced the rear end as a result of Seb Loeb’s misfortunes and also worked at getting to the bottom of the electrical problem on Timmy’s car. So, now we go into Portugal with exactly the same philosophy as we started the year: we want to stay humble and fully concentrated, with the aim of being more consistent than we were in Spain and scoring more points for the drivers and for the team.”
 
Kenneth Hansen, Team PEUGEOT Total Manager
“Montalegre is much more of a traditional rallycross track, right up there with all the classic circuits. We can certainly exploit the chassis and get the best out of it there, as we did in Spain. Now we have to see in Portugal if we have resolved the issues that affected us in Barcelona. I’ve been in rallycross 35 years and I know that you never stop learning!”
 
Sébastien Loeb, PEUGEOT 208 WRX #9
“On the one hand we got a good result in Barcelona, on the other hand it didn’t mean too much because you get the points in the qualifying heats and those weren’t very good. So hopefully we can go better in Portugal. There’s more gravel, it’s more slippery, and there’s also a risk of rain – which we experienced already in Barcelona, so we’re well-prepared for that possibility! It’s going to be interesting to see how competitive the car is in these different conditions. Last year we generally saw that our car was quite competitive when there was a lot of grip, but less so when it was looser. Driving on loose gravel is nothing new for me, but you can’t really compare rallying with rallycross: it’s a whole different experience. You have to make the best of what you have, right in the moment.”
 
Timmy Hansen, PEUGEOT 208 WRX #21
“I really love Montalegre now, but it was actually one of the circuits that I struggled with when I first started driving. It’s what we call a real gravel circuit and it was built specifically for rallycross without compromise. The good thing is that the gravel in Portugal is very consistent, so even after many cars have driven through it, it still feels the same. You have to really drive and slide the car there and it’s a lot of fun. I remember that Seb had a very strong performance last year in Portugal and came close to winning. So, I think we can do the same as we did in Barcelona, which was a perfect weekend: at least when it came to the factors that we could control! I know now that I’ve got the tools to fight this year, so I have a very big motivation.”
 
Kevin Hansen, PEUGEOT 208 WRX #71
“I’m really looking forward to Portugal as it’s the track where I first drove the PEUGEOT 208 WRX last year, so I have some very happy memories and I know the track well. The joker lap is at the end of a long straight so sometimes you have to make a late call on your tactics if you see the person ahead of you not braking at the end of the straight – are they going for the joker lap, or just leaving their braking to the last minute? I think we have a very good car this year; we just need to put everything together. We are working hard on it.”

DID YOU KNOW?
Montalegre played host to the first ever FIA World Rallycross Championship round in May 2014. PEUGEOT driver Timmy Hansen was knocked out at the semi-final stage, but he returned one year later and stood on the podium in 3rd place. Last year, Sébastien Loeb finished a close 2nd in the final, piling pressure on the leader right up to the very last corner.
 
WHAT IS RALLYCROSS?
Rallycross (WRX) is a mixed discipline combining rallying and circuit racing, held over a short lap that alternates sections on asphalt with sections on gravel. The very first races took place as part of the British Championship at the Lydden Hill circuit in England in 1967. A European Championship was created during the following decades, which led to the launch of the FIA World Rallycross Championship in 2014. The short and sharp format of the races attracts a young crowd and is tailor-made for video, social media and television. The objective for the championship is to go fully electric in the future.
 
RACE & RULES
Each 2-day event begins with a lottery that determines the grid for the 1st of the 4 qualifying heats. Each car takes part in 1 race (lasting 4 laps) of each heat, with 3 to 5 cars starting together in a line. Based on the results from the 4 heats (given in points based on the times), the top 12 drivers proceed to the semi-finals. These are 2 races of 6 laps, with 6 cars in each. The top 3 cars from each semi-final (based on the positions) move go through to the final, which also takes place over 6 laps. Championship points are awarded after the heats and in both the final and semi-finals. In every race, drivers are required to take the ‘joker lap’ once: an extra section of track that usually adds around two to three seconds to a lap time.
 
WRX ON TV
Rallycross was watched more than 24 million people on TV last year (17 million of them in Europe) – and the numbers are growing steadily.  Not only that, but more than 32 million minutes of rallycross footage was watched on YouTube, which combined with Instagram and Facebook adds up to a digital footprint in excess of 34 million views. The main TV broadcasters include L’Equipe in France, Sport TV in Portugal, CBS in the USA, RTBF in Belgium and SVT in Sweden. The final from Montalegre goes live on Sunday at 3pm local time (Portugal is one hour behind the rest of mainland Europe).
 
MEDIA INFORMATION

MEDIA CONTACT 

Peugeot Sport Communication Manager: 
Aurélie LEHE +33 6 14 84 28 99 aurelie.lehe@ext.mpsa.com  
 
Team Peugeot Total Press Officer: 
Vera DUSSAUSAYE + 33 6 48 60 07 94 vera@19com.ch
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