No person (or rally race) should be treated like 'a means to an end.'
But when that ultimate goal looms larger than anything else in sight, you tend to focus on the main event. All others are just prep work.
And so it is for the refreshed Peugeot 2008 DKR 2015+ racecar. That 2015+ coding is the internal tag for the heavy upgrade work done by the racing boffins at Peugeot Sport.
The DKR was our clear favorite to win the Dakar rally in 2015, but lost out to the brutally fast MINI Countryman race squad, who are shooting for their fourth (fifth?) consective outright win this January in Chile.
The 2008 DKR has the goods to win the race, but on its first year back after a 25-year hiatus, the DKR had some crashy troubles and other explode-y trubs that took it off the winning pace.
Clearly, the bones and power of the DKR are up to the task: but it is a matter of tweaking to make sure what worked for this engine at LeMans and Pikes Peak also works in far-away places.
What better road test proving ground than the longest land path in the world? The China Silk Road!
Competing hard in the rally with two trucks, the Pug team will be learning the truck's handling and mechanical details much more thoroughly than ever before on this mega-journey.
The tweaks are not outlined yet by Peugeot, but include the new suspension and engine tunes we mentioned.
The DKR 2015+ has also swapped to Michelin tires for this year on lightweight OZ wheels. No wheelbase stretch, so the DKR is will a bit wild as it lands hard in the Morocco test photos from June 2015.
Visually, the new DKR seems to be all about extra cooling air. Much wider full-height intakes live behind the cabin doors on both sides. These could scoop up a small village and convert them to boost....
A new vent and perhaps radiator unit of some kind also appears on the roof in a way that we do not recall from the 2015 Dakar.
Peugeot DKR (Original 2015 Dakar Specifications)
Fingers crossed the DKR 2015+ makes it as far east as the dusty trail goes over the next few weeks of cruel and unusual punishment.
And here's hoping the all-French driver crew will lift off the throttle before cooling those red-hot brakes in the Pacific! However they do it, expect this mad munchkin of a rally rocket to set the tone for a ruthless Dakar 2016 battle.
Two wishes? First, a new paintjob or race livery design. Lighter colors and painted bodywork/fenders?! The RB colors need a fresh twist somehow.
And let's leave the 2008 badging somewhere along the way. So confusing to have a 2015 2008 2015+ model.
2016 Peugeot 2008 DKR 2015+
Xi’an, China, Tuesday, August 25, 2015
The PEUGEOT 2008 DKR is to make its first competitive appearance since January’s Dakar at the end of August. Two cars have been entered for the China Silk Road Rally (August 29-September 11) which traverses some of the country’s most epic roads.
It is a breath-taking journey that awaits Team Peugeot Total through what is today the brand’s biggest single market. Its participation in the event – initially called the China Grand Rally – is one of the key moments of the team’s busy preparations for the 2016 Dakar. Its cars will be in the hands of two all-French crews, namely Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret and Cyril Despres/David Castera who are looking forward to the challenges of the event’s historic and highly selective itinerary.
The in-house codename for the specification of the two PEUGEOT 2008 DKRs that will compete in China is ‘2008 DKR 2015+’. They feature a number of evolutions based on the lessons learned during last January’s Dakar which was Peugeot’s first involvement in the cross-country classic in 25 years. The most notable changes concern the suspension and engine, as well as the introduction of new Michelin tyres which combine superior performance with a lighter weight, with no detriment to their strength.
This specification is an interim version which provides a foretaste of the car that will tackle the 2016 Dakar. It includes a number of parts that were put through their paces during a series of tests in Morocco earlier in the year. However, Team Peugeot Total knows perfectly that there is no substitute for actually competing in anger and the entry of two cars for the China Silk Road Rally marks an important step in the PEUGEOT 2008 DKR’s development programme. Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet, Carlos Sainz will be busy working on the 2016-spec 2008 DKR!
“The China Silk Road Rally will be a scaled-down dress rehearsal for the Dakar,” says the 11-time Dakar winner and China Silk Road Rally novice Stéphane Peterhansel. “It is a big opportunity for us because it will be the longest test we do and we will be able to replicate the sort of timetable and conditions we face in South America. Some roads are even quite similar.”
Cyril Despres, who gave a fresh turn to his career last year at the age of 40, believes the experience gained in China will help him to pursue his familiarisation with competition on four wheels after a glittering career – and five Dakar victories – on motorbikes. He also sees it as a chance to accustom himself working with his new co-driver, David Castera, who also needs to acclimatise to a different role…
“I still have a great deal to learn about driving a car on the Dakar, and David has even more to learn,” observes Cyril Despres. “That said, I think it’s good to help each other as we learn together. We will need to grow together as a crew and I have every confidence in his abilities.”
That said, David Castera is no newcomer to the world of cross-country rallying since he has already contested the Dakar several times on two wheels himself, with a personal best of third place in 1998. “I never imagined I would end up as Cyril’s co-driver,” he says. “I thought he was joking when he suggested the idea. This is just a different way of being competitive, which is something I have always been. It’s a new challenge and I can’t wait…”
The China Silk Road Rally starts in Xi’an, around 1,000 kilometres southwest of Beijing. It is a former capital of China (when it was known as Chang’an) and is famous as the place where 6,000 full-scale terracotta warrior statues are buried. The route, which was put together by former Dakar victor and organiser Hubert Auriol, will take crews to the Great Wall of China, via vast arid deserts and towering sand dunes. It will also follow Marco Polo’s footsteps through more mountainous territory and even dense forests. The total distance of 6,500km is divided into 13 legs and will visit five different provinces: Shaanxi, Ningxia, Inner Mongolia, Gansu and Xinjiang.
For Team Peugeot Total and Red Bull, the event will be a key test, as Peugeot Sport director Bruno Famin explains: “The primary purpose of going to China is to continue the car’s development and try some new parts in a competitive context. At the same time, China is an extremely important market for the brand, so we won’t turn down the opportunity to shine in this magnificent setting should it arise…”
Click here to watch the video of film Team Peugeot Total’s preparations for what promises to another exceptional adventure!
August 30: SS1 (Xi’An - Zhongwei., 102km). Maximum altitude: 1,934m. Hard-packed dirt with some stony portions.
August 31: SS2 (Zhongwei - Alxa Zuoqi,, 63km). Maximum altitude: 1,500m. 10% sand.
September 1: SS3 (Alxa Zuoqi - Alxa Zuoqi, 153km). Maximum altitude: 1,400m. 10% sand.
September 2: SS4 (Alxa Zuoqi - Eji Naqi, 204km). Maximum altitude: 1,680m. Hard-packed ground (70%) / sand (30%).
September 3: SS5 (Eji Naqi - Alxa Youqi, 272km). Maximum altitude: 1,600m. Hard-packed ground / soft ground / hard-packed ground / sand.
September 4: SS6 (Alxa Youqi - Alxa Youqi, 202km). Maximum altitude: 1,800m. Sandy ground / hard-packed ground / sand and dunes.
September 5: SS7 (Alxa Youqi – Alxa Youqi, 237km). Maximum altitude: 1,750m. Sandy gullies / hard-packed ground.
September 6: SS8 (Alxa Youqi-Zhangye, 167km). Maximum altitude: 1,600m. 100% Sand and dunes.
September 7: SS9 (Morning: rest / Zhangye- Zhangye Desert Park, 2km). Maximum altitude: 1,600m. Hard-packed ground / soft ground/ hard-packed ground / sand.
September 8: SS10 (Zhangye-Jiuquan, 176km). Maximum altitude: 1,900m. Hard-packed ground / sand.
September 9: SS11 (Jiuquan-Dunhuang, 244km). Maximum altitude: 1,700m. Fast hard-packed ground / stones / sandy gully.
September 10: SS12 (Dunhuang-Dunhuang, 222km). Maximum altitude: 2,500m. 50% sand / 50% hard-packed ground
September 11: SS13(Dunhuang-Dunhuang, 162km). Maximum altitude: 2,500m. gravels / gullies / sand / storm
Total stage distance: 2,206 kilometres
Total overall distance: 5,614 kilometres (including road sections)
Follow the adventure at www.peugeot-sport.com