Peugeot has won the 2016 Dakar Rally.
The Peugeot 2008 DKRs claimed nine stage wins out of a possible 12, including seven one-twos and two one-two-threes.
This French marque triumphed at only its second participation in South America with a total of three Peugeot 2008 DKRs reaching the finish ramp. The duo of Stephane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret in the number 302 Peugeot 2008 DKR called upon all of their experience to seal another win at the finish ramp in Rosario. This is not only their sixth win together, but the 12th win in total for Peterhansel – a six-time Dakar motorbike winner – 25 years after his debut triumph.
With a 9500-kilometre route in two weeks through Argentina and Bolivia, taking in extremes of weather and altitudes that peaked at 4800 metres, Team Peugeot Total took on a challenge with a rather accomplished line-up. The crews of Stephane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret, Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz and Cyril Despres/David Castera have 17 Dakar victories between them and were joined by nine-time world rally champions Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, making their debut on the event.
Peugeot says its engineers learned several valuable lessons during their first participation in South America last year, and worked non-stop ever since to improve the car. Lower, wider, longer and more powerful, the new 2008 DKR kept faith with its two-wheel drive configuration against the traditional 4x4s.
During the first week Peugeot occupied the top three places, thanks to six one-twos and two one-two-threes on the six stages run. The second week of the rally offered a more varied route, taking in an increased amount of off-piste action and an itinerary through the dunes. Through this hazard-strewn terrain, both Sebastien Loeb and Carlos Sainz bid farewell to their hopes of victory, because of a roll and a mechanical breakage on stage 10 respectively. Cyril Despres had already been delayed on stage five with a turbo problem, so it was Stephane Peterhansel who emerged as Team Peugeot Total’s main contender for victory.
The Frenchman won a crucial stage through the famous Fiambala dunes, and then seized the advantage on the 10th of 13 stages, with a cushion of one hour at the head of the field. He then just had to manage that advantage all the way to the finish.
Stephane Peterhansel (driver of the winning Peugeot 2008 DKR) said: “This is a huge satisfaction for us. Before the start, a result like this was far from guaranteed. My feeling was that the team was still a bit young, but in fact everything came together extremely well. We had the nice surprise of seeing that our car was extremely competitive throughout the WRC-style stages. I just tried to stay in touch during those days, knowing that Carlos and Seb were quicker than me. We drove a clean rally with one day of maximum attack, and then we found ourselves in the lead with a very comfortable margin: 50 minutes with just three days to go. After that, it was just a question of looking after that gap as intelligently as possible. When I was competing on my very first Dakars as a bike rider, I dreamed of one day driving for Peugeot. To have joined the team and won with them is a massive source of satisfaction for me. “
Jean-Paul Cottret (co-driver of the winning Peugeot 2008 DKR) added: “We’re delighted to have brought this Peugeot 2008 DKR to the top step of the podium. It’s a great reward for the whole team, which has worked so hard for two years. After a year of learning, we’ve now achieved victory. It’s a great result, so a massive thanks to everyone.”