The Dakar is famous for being one of the most arduous and toughest rally events in the world. Though it has lost a little of its allure since switching to South America in 2009, it still remains arguably the biggest and most famous event on the off-road endurance calendar. In recent years, the Cars category has been dominated by the likes of Volkswagen, Mini, and latterly Peugeot. Here, we take a look at the new Peugeot 3008DKR Maxi — the French manufacturers’ 40th edition car for the Dakar — currently ranked 10th in South America, will compete across Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina from January 6-20, 2018.
After victories in 2016 and 2017, the Peugeot brand will be out for the hat-trick in 2018 with its hopes resting on the new Peugeot 3008DKR Maxi. The Peugeot 3008DKR Maxi is the “racing” version of the brand’s new 3008 SUV — the car that took the 2017 European Car of the Year honors back in March in Geneva (making history in the process as it was the first SUV ever to do so).
The Peugeot 3008DKR Maxi was officially unveiled at the end of June, and while it is still undergoing development, it is wider than its predecessor — 20cm wider to be precise — with the suspension tracks on either side 10cm bigger.
This means it has got all new upper and lower wishbones as well as new driveshafts and new front and rear track rods. The reason? To improve the stability and dynamics with the intention of upping its performance as Peugeot Sports Director, Bruno Famin, confirmed a few months ago.
“As soon as we crossed the finish ramp of the Dakar in January, we started to work on the next generation of car to take on this monumental challenge [again],” he revealed. “Our engineers have a mission to continually improve the car, using their know-how to constantly raise the level and give our drivers the best [shot] of success.”
The car has already made its debut, too, with rally master Sebastien Loeb putting it through its paces on the 2017 Silk Way Rally last month (July 7-22). True he may not have finished — crashing out on the ninth stage — but by then he had already proved the pace of the new Peugeot 3008DKR Maxi and was leading for over a minute. He was pleased with it as well, revealing to Autosport that he had a “good feeling” and that it was “performing well”. He also proclaimed he is “sure” it is the car they “will need” to tackle the Dakar again.
“The strongest point is the off-road ability. With its wide track and big wheels, it can go more or less anywhere. It’s maybe not so agile on stage-type roads… but the advantage of our car is the fact that it can tackle anything, especially the dunes,” Loeb added back in June.
The signs are good, then, although it is never easy to stay at the top and keep winning; just ask any top sports team or individual, be in motorsports like the Dakar, football with say Chelsea or Manchester United, tennis with Andy Murray or Rafael Nadal, or poker with current king Bryn Kenney and so on.
However, the Peugeot brand does stand a very good shot at least because they seem to have taken another step forward, but also because in Stephane Peterhansel, Cyril Despres, Carlos Sainz, and Loeb, they have some of the top talents around. Indeed, Peterhansel won the event for a record 13th time in January this year. The question now is can he do it for the 14th time and make it three in a row with the Peugeot? Or will one of his team-mates take the laurels for the “Lion”?
Time will tell…