Peugeot to return to Dakar in 2015


Peugeot has announced it is to return to the Dakar rally for 2015, in collaboration with Red Bull Motorsports and Total.

Peugeot has revealed the design of the car that will attempt outright victory in one of the world’s toughest races. It’s based on the 2008 crossover, in the same way the 208 T16 is based on the standard 208. In other words, not at all.

“There were two ways we could have approached this task, either by taking a standard 2008 and grafting on bespoke parts, or by drawing inspiration from the 2008’s defining forms,” said Giovanni Rizzo, the 2008 designer. “We decided to go down the second path.”

Only a handful of details have been released so far, and we’re told the design and ‘aggressive stance’ was necessitated by the drivetrain and dynamic properties of the sand-bound beast.

“We supplied Peugeot’s Style Centre with the basic key dimensions,” explains Peugeot Sport’s project leader Jean-Christophe Pailler, “as well as other information such as the cabin space we required, plus the wheel size (37in) and suspension travel. They also had aero data resulting from early simulation work.”

One of the more startling things about this car is that it isn’t four-wheel-drive. It’s a rear-wheel-drive effort. “Given the off-road capability of two-wheel-drive transmission and its ability to run on sand,” Jean-Christophe said, “that’s the choice we ultimately went for.”

Embracing two-wheel drive allows the Pug to run in Dakar’s buggy class, which is far less restrictive than the four-wheel drive class in which the X-Raid Mini Countryman runs. Thus it can benefit from better suspension travel, a larger wheel fitment and, of course, lots of power.

Though details of the powertrain are being kept tightly under wraps at the moment, but we do know Carlos Sainz – the 2010 Dakar Rally champ – and five-time Dakar bike champ Cyril Despres will helm the monster Pug. “I know that Peugeot Sport has the necessary know-how, technology and means to pull off what is a unique and stimulating challenge for everyone in the team,” says Sainz.

Don’t forget, Peugeot won the Dakar back in the late 80s, taking four straight wins from 1987 to 1990 in the 205 T16 and 405 T16.

Photos provided by Peugeot France