By: Sam Bisby
After a 25 year absence, French manufacturer Peugeot will make a return to the treacherous Dakar Rally in 2015 with a racer based on the company’s 2008 crossover.
The Dakar Rally is arguably the toughest race in motorsport that covers a massive 10,000km. Peugeot will team up with Red Bull and Total when it competes next January – the very same brands Peugeot and Sebastien Loeb found success with in last year’s record-breaking Pikes Peak Hill Climb run.
Peugeot has a great history in the Dakar Rally, winning it four consecutive years between 1987 and 1990 with both the 205 T16 Grand Raid and the 405 T16 Grand Raid. The manufacturer’s dominance came in a time where more and more production vehicles were making an appearance, while World Rally Championship stars such as Ari Vatanen took them to victory.
In 2015, another WRC hero will be at the helm for Peugeot in the form of two-time WRC champion and 2010 Dakar winner Carlos Sainz, alongside five-time motorcycle Dakar victor Cyril Despres.
Commenting on the rally, Sainz said: "In motorsport, you can never take anything for granted. The level of competition on the Dakar today is very high and it’s an event that really isn’t easy to win. We won’t have much time before our first attempt, either, but I feel confident because the team is clearly extremely motivated and we will work hard to try to win."
The Dakar Rally has a chequered past, however, thanks to its long list of fatalities that puts it on par with the dangerous times of Formula 1. A total of 27 drivers have perished whilst participating in the rally, as well as numerous journalists, spectators and even the organiser of the event back in 1986, Thierry Sabine.
These days, the event is much safer, yet is still seen as the biggest test in motorsport. This year’s event kicked off in Santa Fe, Argentina on January 5 before finishing Valparaiso, Chile on January 18. In 2015 the rally will again head to South America following a similar route.
More information on Peugeot’s racer will be revealed at April’s Beijing motor show.
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