• Since the organisation of Peugeot Sport’s very first single-make championship 35 years ago, the make has helped to kick start the international careers of several talented young drivers, among them Gilles PANIZZI (in 1993), Sébastien OGIER (2007) and Kevin ABBRING (2013).
• This year, Peugeot Sport is running the fifth edition of its 208 Rally Cup which will be based on a calendar of seven rounds (gravel and asphalt) of the FFSA French Rally Championship. In addition to the prizes that are up for grabs for the season’s top performers, the outright winner at the end of 2017 will earn a factory drive with the PEUGEOT RALLY ACADEMY in the following year’s ERC.
• Meanwhile, Pepe LOPEZ, winner of the 2016 208 Rally Cup, will appear in this year’s ERC in PEUGEOT RALLY ACADEMY’s colours alongside the 2015 208 Rally Cup victor José Antonio SUAREZ who will be eager to capitalise on the potential he revealed in 2016 at WRC2 level. Both Spaniards will drive PEUGEOT 208T16s in the new U28 series for young drivers in four-wheel drive cars that has been created by EUROSPORT as part of the 2017 European Rally Championship.
The 208 Rally Cup: a springboard for young drivers
“The calendar of the 2017 208 Rally Cup features three asphalt events and four gravel rounds. It is consequently ideal for young drivers looking to hone their experience in an exciting, competitive environment as they seek to take their careers forward,” notes Laurent GUYOT, manager of Peugeot Sport’s one-make championships. “We are thrilled with the 208 Rally Cup’s increasing popularity. No fewer than 49 drivers – half of whom were not French – registered for the 2016 series. In addition to the 208 Rally Cup’s extremely high level, I believe its success is notably due to the quality of the PEUGEOT RALLY ACADEMY programme which is the big reward for the ultimate winner the following year.”
In order to make the grooming process more comprehensive still, Peugeot Sport – with support from EUROSPORT – has introduced a new feature for 2017 known as the ‘Junior Experience’. The driver who tops the Junior standings at the 208 Rally Cup’s midpoint will be treated to three individual coaching sessions for three rounds of the 2017 European Rally Championship. The programme, which will benefit from the input of established drivers, will cover areas ranging from recce and note-taking, to roadbook reading and an understanding of tyres.
The PEUGEOT RALLY ACADEMY to focus on the 2017 European Rally Championship (ERC)
“We are extremely pleased with our association with EUROSPORT and delighted to confirm that the PEUGEOT RALLY ACADEMY’s programme in 2017 will focus on the ERC,” says Peugeot Sport Director Bruno FAMIN. “We will be running cars for two particularly promising young Spaniards, namely José SUAREZ  and Pepe LOPEZ . Our aim will be to give them an opportunity to gain experience and finetune their professionalism without pressure as part a of a high-level operation. They will both drive PEUGEOT 208T16s which is the flagship of our rally car range, so it will be a good chance for us to showcase the reliability and competitiveness of the 2017-spec car.”
208 Rally Cup – 2017 Programme
• March 31-April 2: Terre des Causses (gravel)
• April 20-22: Lyon-Charbonnières Rhône (asphalt)
• June 2-4: Terre du Diois (gravel)
• July 7-9: Rouergue (asphalt)
• August 25-27: Terre de Lozère (gravel)
• October 6-8: Terre des Cardabelles (gravel)
• November 24-26: Var (asphalt)
Peugeot Rally Academy – 2017 Programme (ERC / U28)
• March 30- April 1: Azores Airlines Rallye / Portugal (gravel)
• May 4-6: Rally Islas Canarias / Canary Islands (asphalt)
• August 3-5: Rally Rzeszow / Poland (asphalt)
• August 25-27: Barnum Czech Rally Zin / Czech Republic (asphalt)
• September 15-17: Rally Diroma Capitale / Italy (asphalt)
• October 6-8: Rally Liepãja / Latvia (gravel)