SEBASTIEN LOEB & THE PEUGEOT 208 WRX RETURN TO WINNING TERRITORY IN LATVIA
Sat, 08/09/2018 - 09:00
WRX Round #9 – Riga, 15.09-16.09
Less than 2 weeks after Team PEUGEOT Total’s home round in France, the squad heads to the Baltics, in Latvia, hoping for history to repeat itself next weekend at round 9 of the FIA World RX Championship. Specifically, the Riga circuit is where Sebastien Loeb won his 1st rallycross round 2 years ago. Timmy Hansen is also looking to make the next move up to the top step of the podium – after he has been on the final podium twice already this season – in order to confirm the performance of the PEUGEOT 208 WRX Evo and to reward the relentless efforts of the PEUGEOT Sport technical team.
Loheac was another valuable opportunity for the Team PEUGEOT Total to assess the latest evolutions to its 208 WRX EVO, introduced only 2 months ago in Sweden, with a number of areas identified for further improvement. Although the squad didn't quite obtain the result it wanted over a very tight final race on home territory, this has only made everyone even more determined to get back on the podium and challenge for wins: the stated objective for this 1st season as a factory team.
The Bikernieki circuit is located only 15 minutes from the very centre of the Latvian capital Riga, which ensures a large crowd, as rallycross is one of the most popular forms of motorsport there. The racing venue takes its name from the Bikernieki pine forest, which the gravel section of the track (that has its origins in 1962) runs through. In total, the circuit is 1.294 kilometres long, with a 60/40% asphalt to gravel split. It’s a challenging layout with a wide variety of corners: the lap record is currently held by America’s Ken Block at 45.831 seconds.
With 4 rounds of the FIA World Rallycross Championship to go, Team PEUGEOT Total is currently 3rd in the Teams’ Championship. In the Drivers’ rankings, Timmy Hansen is 4th and Sebastien Loeb 6th, with only 9 points separating 3rd to 6th places, while Kevin Hansen is 8th.
Kenneth Hansen, Team Peugeot Total Manager
“Each rallycross circuit has its own personality and Riga is no exception: it’s quite a tight and technical circuit, with barriers and guardrails close to the track, so there’s no room for mistakes. We know it well from the official test before Canada, but it’s important to remember that everyone else knows it well too and they have also been working hard on their cars, so we need to wait and see if the track still suits us as well as it did before. The race comes a little bit later in the summer now, so the weather could be a question mark, but even if it rains there is still high grip. After the last round at Loheac, we made a comprehensive debrief and analysis to put our finger on what we could have done better. We’re still a young team, contesting our first season together in this championship – which is a new programme for PEUGEOT – and we have plenty of potential still to develop. We’ve got a test scheduled in France before we head to Riga, so we should arrive in Latvia as well-prepared as we can be.”
Sébastien Loeb, Team PEUGEOT Total Driver #9
“My 1st victory in the FIA World Rallycross Championship was in Riga in 2016. So naturally, it’s a place that I like a lot with plenty of good memories for me. We showed some good performance on this track in the test we had previously this summer, and we saw then that our PEUGEOT 208 WRX Evo was doing very well there, which is encouraging. But I can’t really say any more than that. At Loheac, we had the speed, but things didn’t turn out too well for us. I didn’t have a single clean race apart from the semi-final. In the final, I again had the speed, with the quickest lap in front of Johan Kristoffersson, but I wasn’t able to get a good start and so I found myself 6th at the first corner. That sums up the whole difficulty of rallycross: you need everything to go smoothly from start to finish. I’m hoping that Riga will work more in our favour, starting right from the initial draw.”
Timmy Hansen, Team PEUGEOT Total Driver #21
“I’m really looking forward to Riga: you race close to the city and you’re always surrounded by loads of passionate rallycross fans. It's a track that I always enjoy: as a team, we've had some good success in the past on this track, so let’s see how it goes. The main feature of Riga is that there’s really high grip there and it’s a very technical circuit: a proper challenge for the drivers and teams to make the most of it. The setting is very beautiful too, in a park. We’ve had a lot to analyse as a team since Loheac, and we’ll be trying to put the lessons we learned from there into place. I know that we have all the ingredients to succeed.”
Kevin Hansen, Team PEUGEOT Total Driver #71
“After the craziness of our home race at Loheac, with so many fans and media sessions, I think Riga will be a bit more of a calm and normal race weekend for us. But that doesn’t make it any less special. I feel I’ve been learning and improving all the time at every round with the yellow 208 WRX, and now I am starting to feel very much at home with it. Again at Loheac I was close to the final and I felt that we achieved the maximum we could. We need to continue this upward curve, and that’s the goal here. I was already very close to getting in the final in Riga last year, so I feel we have some very good possibilities next weekend.”
DID YOU KNOW?
Bikernieki was once the premier motorsport facility in the whole of the Soviet Union (when Latvia formed a part of it) featuring both car and motorbike races, on two separate tracks. But it also played host to some more unusual forms of motorsport. In 1974, a stadium was built next to the start-finish straight for the purpose of motoball: essentially five-a-side football played on motorbikes. Not just motorsport takes place there: in the cold Latvian winter, the Bikernieki circuit becomes a cross-country skiing complex, within easy reach of Riga. PEUGEOT is represented in Latvia by an importer, Auto-Bon Baltic, of the Bassadone Group.
WHAT IS RALLYCROSS?
Get to understand everything better about the format of World RX racing and the main rules of the championship: https://bit.ly/2rZlFxb
Watch the episodes of the PEUGEOT “WRX Racing Test” web series: https://bit.ly/2qN7LgU
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, SVT in Sweden and RDS in Canada, …
Watch the race live on LTV in Latvia, on Sunday September 16th from 4PM
Classification FIA World RX : http://www.fiaworldrallycross.com/standings
PEUGEOT 208 WRX technical data sheet: http://www.peugeot-media.com
Photos & videos of the Team PEUGEOT Total, the drivers and the PEUGEOT 208 WRX:
©Photo : PEUGEOT Sport / MCH Photography
©Vidéo : PEUGEOT Sport / La Clé Production
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