Sitra – Zayani Motors: The Peugeot 2008 DKR16 after going through an evolutionary process emerging more aggressive than its predecessor which made its debut at the epic Dakar Rally in January. It is all set to make its competitive debut later in the year before heading to South America.
The new car has been a continual work in progress, with development work starting as soon as the original car crossed the finish ramp in Buenos Aires just over seven months ago, at the conclusion of this year’s Dakar.
Peugeot’s engineers went over their ‘Lion’ piece by piece, analysing what could be done better, with the help of its Dakar experts Stéphane Peterhansel (an 11-time winner), Carlos Sainz (a two-time world rally champion and also former Dakar winner) as well as Cyril Despres (a five-time Dakar winner on bikes).
The improvements which were gradually applied and assessed through a series of tests, culminated in a one-two finish for Peterhansel and Despres on the recent China Silk Road Rally using an interim-specification car. This was essentially the 2015 model, with a number of development parts for 2016 added.
The updated version of the beast is longer, wider, lower, includes a raft of improvements under its carbon-skin and way more powerful than before.
The front and rear overhangs have been reduced, enhancing the car’s go-anywhere ability. This is vital when it comes to tackling the varied obstacles such as sand dunes, river beds, and huge rocks that characterise the Dakar, making it one of the last true sporting adventures left on earth.
There are some surprises under the bonnet as well. Despite the air restrictor, the 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbo diesel engine now has more power. The driveability of the engine is increased too, which will be particularly useful during twisty stages.
Other evolutions lie under its carbon skin. The suspension has been redesigned to deal more effectively with the different and rough terrains. It also benefits from better weight distribution, as well as magnesium one-piece wheels for the first time, matched to lighter tyres from Michelin. These replace the aluminium two-piece wheels from last year, with the combination resulting in a significant weight saving.
Peugeot Sport Director Bruno Famin, overseeing the final test in Morocco to sign off the latest incarnation of Peugeot’s Dakar challenger, commented: “There isn’t one big change that we have made on our car: instead it has been a series of small evolutions in different areas, which together we hope will amount to an overall improvement. The areas we have concentrated on include bodywork and aerodynamics – as a result of which the car looks slightly different compared to last year – as well as engine and suspension, which is all under the skin. The tests we have carried out up to now, as well as our one-two finish in China recently, indicate that we are heading in the right direction. You really cannot compare our state of preparation now to how it was for our first Dakar this time last year, when everything was new to us! Of course you can never say that you are completely ready for the Dakar either because you simply never know what it will throw at you, but certainly this time we are more ready.”