With just hours to go before the start of the 2017 Dakar on Monday, January 2, in Asuncion, Paraguay, Team Peugeot Total has its sights set on a repeat of the triumph it secured on the 2016 event. Stéphane PETERHANSEL, Carlos SAINZ, Cyril DESPRES, Sébastien LOEB and their respective co-drivers are eager for action to kick off in their brand-new PEUGEOT 3008DKRs which face a total distance of some 9,000km and potentially one of the toughest Dakars on record.
♦ This is Peugeot’s third Dakar start in South America. The Dream Team’s four crews are identical to those who contested last January’s event, namely 2016 victors Stéphane PETERHANSEL/Jean-Paul COTTRET (N°300), Carlos SAINZ/Lucas CRUZ (N°304), Cyril DESPRES/David CASTERA (N°307) and Sébastien LOEB/Daniel ELENA (N°309).
♦ Like its predecessor, the 2008DKR, and unlike its 4x4 opponents, the PEUGEOT 3008DKR features two-wheel drive transmission. Compared with last year’s winning car, the 3008DKR stands out through numerous evolutions to the engine, suspension and aerodynamics. Also new is its air-conditioning system which has been designed to keep the team’s crews cool and competitive in hot weather.
♦ The four Team Peugeot Total-entered PEUGEOT 3008DKRs arrived in Asunción, Paraguay, on Thursday, December 29. Three of them were freighted via Argentina from Peugeot Sport’s base in Vélizy, near Paris, France, while Cyril DESPRES’ car arrived from Chile after high-altitude engine-mapping bench testing earlier this month.
♦ Ahead of scrutineering, Team Peugeot Total organised a shakedown test for its cars at the Ruben Dumot Autodrome, in the suburbs of Asuncion. The small group of spectators included France’s ambassador to Paraguay and former tennis star Victor Pecci who is today the country’s Minister of Sport.
♦ After pre-start scrutineering and a ceremonial send-off in front of what is expected to be a huge turnout on January 1, the four PEUGEOT 3008DKRs will remain in parc ferme until the start at 9am on Monday, January 2.
“Our shakedown test enabled us to finetune the last few details and finish the preparation of our cars and spares. It was also a good opportunity for our drivers to find their marks before the start. We succeeded in ticking off all the jobs that were on our list but you can never claim to be completely ready for the Dakar, simply because you never know what the event is going to throw at you. The weather is always a key factor, of course, and it looks like it will be unsettled for the first few days, with a cocktail of storms and heat. That could play a big role and we are naturally also wary of the two other factory teams we face this year, namely Mini and Toyota. We are perhaps a little warier of the latter due to the changes to the balance of performance regulations which affect the diesel turbo and petrol engines. It is also represented by some strong crews so the competition promises to be fiercer than ever. The event is likely to be highly complex, too, as a result of modifications to the navigation regulations.”
Stéphane PETERHANSEL (PEUGEOT 3008 DKR #300)
“I think we have worked well all year and stacked up as many cards in our favour as possible, both on the human and technical fronts. This event is never straightforward, of course, but I don’t feel under any particular pressure. I just want to get started! My aim is to have fun driving the new PEUGEOT 3008DKR which has changed in several areas compared with the 2008DKR. That’s a good thing because the Dakar has become more of an out-and-out sprint than a desert marathon. I am curious to see what the effect of spending so much time at high altitudes in Bolivia will be. That’s something that will be new for everyone. Having air conditioning will be a plus. It was very hot and humid during our shakedown test but the system fulfilled its role perfectly. It’s great to have it, in terms of both comfort and performance.”
Carlos SAINZ (PEUGEOT 3008DKR #304)
“We have the speed. After all the work we have done this year, I can’t wait to get started here in Paraguay. I think we have worked in the right direction with the 3008DKR. It appears to be more reliable than last year’s car and perhaps even a little faster despite the engine air restrictor we have had to fit to comply with the regulations. It’s difficult to have an opinion about the route since we only have a global overview for the moment. We will just have to be patient because you never really know what the Dakar is going to throw up. Everyone seems to think the stages will be hard and my experience tells me to be cautious.”
Cyril DESPRES (PEUGEOT 3008DKR #307)
“I’m delighted to be taking part in the Dakar on four wheels for the third time, and for the 17th time in total. I feel a little more reassured because I am beginning to get a really good feel for the car. Winning last summer’s Silk Way Rally and running at the front of the field on the Rallye du Maroc gave me a chance to explore its limits even more. I feel in great shape, both mentally and physically. I have less experience than the others on four wheels so I particularly appreciate the fact that the 3008DKR has been made even more stable thanks to the work that has been done on the chassis and suspension. It’s a factor that is perhaps less critical for my team-mates but it’s important for my confidence. The stages will naturally be a huge challenge, with high altitudes in Bolivia, followed by sand dunes and bush in Argentina during the second week. It’s got the makings of being a hard Dakar for the co-drivers, too. The waypoint controls are a fresh parameter they will quickly need to get a grasp of.”
Sébastien LOEB (PEUGEOT 3008DKR #309)
“Last year, practically everything about the Dakar was new for Daniel and me. We tended to be stronger on the tracks and trails but there was room for improvement whenever we strayed off road. We consequently worked very hard during 2016, especially on the Silk Way Rally which brought us some valuable experience last summer. I hope that will be enough for us to be competitive both on the WRC-style stages and off road. Compared with the 2008DKR, the PEUGEOT 3008DKR is globally a little better in every area. A great deal of work has gone into the engine and suspension, as well as into the car’s electronic systems to cure the minor issues we had from time to time last year. The engine has improved but we will be penalised by the air restrictor dictated by the latest technical regulations. That said, we still have plenty of suspension travel to be able to soak up the rough terrain and travel at speed over rough ground. I feel quite relaxed but I am acutely aware of the fact that the Dakar lasts two weeks and there will no doubt be plenty of surprises. We therefore need to stay focused and take each day as it comes. We will try to do our best all the way and we’ll see what sort of result that lands us at the finish…”
HOW TO RECOGNISE THE FOUR 3008DKRs…
The four 3008DKRs can be recognised by their competition number and the colour of the strip on the air intake over the cockpit: