PEUGEOT SPORT begins its 2017 rally campaign this weekend with gravel outings in Portugal and France.
♦ The PEUGEOT RALLY ACADEMY-run factory PEUGEOT 208T16s are in action in Portugal where Spaniards Jose Antonio SUAREZ / Candido CARRERA and Pepe LOPEZ / Borja ROZADA will be keen to get their ERC U28 programmes (European Rally Championship for under-28-year olds) off to a flying start on the Azores Airlines Rally.
♦ Thursday, March 30 to Saturday, April 1, 2017.
♦ The opening clash of the 2017 208 Rally Cup takes the 22 registered crews and their respective PEUGEOT 208R2s to Capdenac – in France’s Aveyron region – for the Rallye Terre de Causses, round one of the 2017 FFSA French Gravel Rally Championship (CFRT).
♦ Friday, March 31, to Sunday, April 2.
Bruno FAMIN, Director, PEUGEOT SPORT:
“Our rally programme consists of two levels, the first of which is the 208 Rally Cup, an attractive customer-based one-make series for amateur drivers and young guns keen to demonstrate their potential. The 208 Rally Cup is the latest in a long line of Peugeot series that have seen a high number of future WRC stars cut their teeth over the years. The 2017 calendar is based on four gravel and three asphalt rounds. The prize for the winner is a drive with our factory team – the PEUGEOT RALLY ACADEMY – in a PEUGEOT 208T16 with a view to rounding off their grooming in a topflight competition.’’
PEUGEOT RALLY ACADEMY
ERC – U28 programme
The 2017 season marks PEUGEOT SPORT’s return to the European Rally Championship (ERC) with PEUGEOT RALLY ACADEMY drivers Jose Antonio SUAREZ and Pepe LOPEZ (Junior), winners of the 208 Rally Cup in 2015 and 2016 respectively. The two Spaniards have set their sights high for the campaign ahead and are both entered for the newly-created ERC U28 series for under-28-year olds, driving 2017-specification PEUGEOT 208T16s.
AZORES AIRLINES RALLY
The 2017 European Rally Championship kicks off with a classic event, namely the Azores Airlines Rally which celebrated its half-century in 2015. Based in Sao Miguel, the biggest Azores island, located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, its sandy, breathtakingly-beautiful stages twist through luxuriant undergrowth. They tend to be narrow, however, and consequently leave little margin for error, especially the famous Sete Cidades test which runs along the rim of a volcanic crater. The weather can be very changeable, too, switching quickly from bright sunshine to rain and even fog to heighten the event’s incontestable challenge.
♦ Stages: 16, totalling 210.46km
♦ Road sections: 670.32km
♦ Surface: gravel
♦ Start: 2:30pm local time on Thursday, March 30 (Praça Gonçalo Velho, Ponte Delgada)
♦ Event covered by EUROSPORT
208 RALLY CUP
The fifth running of Peugeot Sport’s benchmark one-make rally series – the 208 Rally Cup – has attracted another significant non-French contingent, with crews from no fewer than seven different countries – including South Africa – amongst the 22 registrations already received (Belgium: 2 / Spain: 1 / Portugal: 1 / Italy: 1 / Finland 1 / South Africa: 1).
It is obviously hard to predict a likely pecking order before hostilities begin, but drivers like ‘FX’ Blanc, Guillaume de Mevius, Efren Llarena, Patrick Magnou and Quentin Ribaud are 208 Rally Cup regulars and their experience can be expected to be a valuable asset.
Newcomers to watch include Laurent Pellier and Jérémy Jamet, who have previously showcased their skills in other single-make competitions, while Diogo Gago returns after claiming Portugal’s two-wheel drive crown in 2016. Finns Tade Lario and Aki Sahila provided evidence of their speed towards the end of last season and promise to be competitive on the calendar’s opener which is frequently referred to as ‘Little Finland’ because of its high-speed dirt stages.
♦ Complete entry list: www.peugeot-sport.com
♦ PEUGEOT 208R2 technical data: www.peugeot-sport.com
RALLYE TERRE DES CAUSSES
In keeping with recent tradition, this year’s FFSA French Gravel Rally Championship (CFRT) and 208 Rally Cup are poised to kick off with the Rallye Terre des Causses which is being organised for the 22nd time.
♦ Stages: 10, totalling 148.740km
♦ Road sections: 136.420km
♦ Surface: gravel
♦ Start: Friday, March 31 (Parc de Capèle, Capdenac Gare)