2018 DAKAR RALLY | PREVIEW
Team Peugeot Total locked out the Dakar podium in 2017 and will target victory once more on the 40th edition of the event this year. The route takes in a challenging 9000-kilometre long odyssey that will run through Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina from January 6-20.
THE PEUGEOT 3008DKR IN MAXI VERSION
• Team PEUGEOT Total has developed a new car for the 2018 Dakar. It remains two-wheel drive, but the PEUGEOT 3008DKR takes to the stages in ‘Maxi’ guise this year, measuring 2.40 metres wide for increased stability.
THE ‘DREAM TEAM’ FIGHTS ON
• Team Peugeot Total’s ‘dream team’ – which claimed nine out of a possible 10 stage victories last year – remains unchanged for 2018: Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret, Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz, Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena and Cyril Despres/David Castera. This quartet can claim 19 Dakar victories between them (including bikes and cars), while PEUGEOT SPORT has 6 wins from seven participations (1987 to 1990; 2015 to 2017).
EACH TO HIS OWN COLOURS!
• Four crews, four cars, four colours! The Peugeot 3008DKR Maxi entries on the Dakar each have their own distinctive colours on the front and on the roof:
- Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (n°300): yellow
- Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (n°303): blue
- Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (n°306): white
- Cyril Despres/David Castera (n°308): red
CHALLENGING TECHNICAL AND SPORTING RULES
• The 2018 technical regulations include several adjustments that do not favour two-wheel drive cars, with four-wheel drive cars benefitting from a minimum weight that is reduced by up to 100 kilograms and suspension travel that is increased by 30 millimetres, while the PEUGEOT 3008DKR Maxi carries an extra 70 kilograms of ballast. PEUGEOT SPORT’s engineers have therefore had to work flat-out to compensate for this rarely-seen handicap in the regulations.
• The 2018 Dakar sporting regulations have evolved again to make navigation more complex. Maps are no longer allowed inside the cars, while the route sets several challenges. For the co-drivers, the job now gets even harder. But at least the rules are the same for everyone.
A VERY DEMANDING ROUTE
• For this 40th edition of the Dakar Rally, the organisers have announced a particularly challenging route: 5 days in the sand dunes of Peru, 5 days at altitude in Bolivia (at one point reaching 4786m), a demanding marathon stage that is nearly 1000 kilometres long, and the fearsome ‘super Fiambala’ stage in Argentina, which always gives the crews something to think about! This makes up 8793 kilometres in total, of which 4329 kilometres are timed.
• One of the PEUGEOT 3008DKR Maxi cars together with Cyril Despres/David Castera headed for South America slightly early, in mid-December, to complete some altitude tests in Chile. The four competing cars will take part in a final shakedown in Lima, Chile, on January 4, before heading to scrutineering on January 5 and the rally start on January 6.
Bruno Famin, PEUGEOT SPORT Director
“Considering our victories over the past two years, including a one-two-three in 2017, our only objective can be to win this year’s Dakar as well! But we cannot take anything for granted. The 2018 event looks set to be a thrilling but very long competition, which will be full of challenges. The route is longer than last year and much more difficult, with some long days in the desert from the very start – at the end of which there could already be some big gaps opening up. The 1000-kilometre marathon stage will also form a significant chunk of the action, and Argentina will be no easier too. Bearing in mind our rivals, who have also been working hard, and a major adjustment to the regulations, there’s no doubt that it’s going to be an extremely complicated event. Aiming for victory in this context is already a big objective. But as well as the capabilities of the Peugeot 3008DKR Maxi, our strength compared to our rivals is having four crews all capable of winning.”
Stéphane Peterhansel (PEUGEOT 3008DKR Maxi n°300)
“I think that this year will be a very difficult rally. The route gives a nod to the Dakar’s African origins, with plenty of desert, dunes, and perhaps a few surprises on the long sections. Everything seems very open, and it might not even be the quickest driver who wins. At the start of this project, I made it my goal to reacquaint PEUGEOT with success on the Dakar. That objective has been reached, and for my part I feel a little less pressure than previous years, but of course I still really want to win this last Dakar with Peugeot! The car is even more competitive than last year. It’s wider and easier to control through corners, and it should enable us to perform even better in the dunes. We’re all happy with this latest evolution, which we’ve already driven for more than 5000 kilometres in testing: the equivalent stage length of an entire Dakar.”
Carlos Sainz (PEUGEOT 3008DKR Maxi n°303)
“I’m feeling good at the start of this Dakar. I prepared in the usual way by intensifying my physical training programme before the start. It’s our last Dakar with PEUGEOT and I’m aiming for it to be a successful one. The team has worked very hard to develop this new PEUGEOT 3008DKR Maxi, which represents a step forward. Of all the Dakar rallies that have taken place in South America, I think this one has the most kilometres in the dunes. Navigation will be tricky, with lots of off-piste. And starting with so many desert stages straight away is also going to make it a very interesting Dakar. In these conditions, the characteristics of the PEUGEOT 3008DKR Maxi should be able to help us. Having said all that, the latest regulations don’t work in our favour, and that is another factor to bear in mind.”
Sébastien Loeb (PEUGEOT 3008DKR Maxi n°306)
“For me, it’s a little bit of a case of now or never if I want to win the Dakar. It’s my last opportunity to do it really. Last year, we saw that we had the capability of winning it. Daniel did a good job when it came to the navigation. That’s a source of motivation. We know that we can do it and I’m heading to South America with my sights set on victory, that’s for sure. But there are all sorts of things that come into play on the Dakar. It’s very long and you can quickly lose everything with just a small mistake, especially now that the sand dunes form such a big part of the route again. That’s positive for the sport, as it’s what people imagine that rally raids are all about. On the other hand, it’s also the type of terrain where I don’t have a great deal of experience. So, the route isn’t one that works to my advantage. As for the car, it’s more stable, easier to drive, and with better suspension. It gives us more confidence and allows us to push a bit harder.”
Cyril Despres (Peugeot 3008DKR Maxi n°308)
“I’m already just concentrating on the terrain and the difficulty of each leg. The first stages, in Peru, will take place in the sand. We’re not used to spending so much time in the dunes, but I’m quite calm about it as our car works well when it comes to negotiating them. It will be very hot at the beginning and then very quick, with narrower mountain stages at high altitude. And then there will be the stages like Belén and Fiambala, which you always go into with a slight edge of fear… There’s altitude, shifting sands, and waypoints that are never easy to find, which make navigation very complicated. This year’s Dakar will be a really complex mix!”
Peugeot Sport Communications:
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