The Dakar has been dominated the past few years by the X-Raid team and with its modified Mini Countryman rally cars. However Peugeot is aiming to change that.
The muscular aggressively styled forms of the Peugeot 2008 DKR provide a vivid indication of the new car’s serious desire for success. It is behind the wheel of this purpose-designed machine that Carlos Sainz and Cyril Despres will defend the colors of Team Peugeot Total in the next Dakar.
The 2008 DKR shares an unmistakable family resemblance with Peugeot’s road-going crossover, albeit with a more muscular and imposing form. Far more than just another styling exercise, the 2008 DKR features an aggressive stance dictated by the technical constraints associated with its mission. “We provided Peugeot’s Style Center with a very precise brief,” explains the Project Leader at Peugeot Sport, Jean-Christophe Pailler. “We supplied them with the basic key dimensions, as well as other information such as the cabin space we required, plus the wheel size and the suspension travel. They also had aerodynamic data resulting from our early simulation work.”
Indeed, Peugeot Sport’s design team had to answer one particularly fundamental: four-wheel or two-wheel drive? The decision effectively influenced the car’s design in two key areas: “We carried out an in-depth analysis and weighed up the benefits of the different solutions. In the end, we opted for an approach that was quite different to that of the competition. Given the off-road capability of two-wheel drive transmission and its ability to run on sand, that’s the choice we ultimately went for. It enabled us to fit bigger wheels and also to benefit from more suspension travel.” As a result the 2008 DKR consequently sits on 37-inch diameter Michelin tires (almost 94cm)!
These considerations naturally had a significant knock-on effect with regard to the work of Peugeot’s stylists, but the four-strong design team rose to the challenge to pen the new Lion.
Having already contested the Dakar seven times in the colors of Red Bull, in both two-wheel and four-wheel drive cars, Carlos Sainz is perfectly aware of the technical constraints that go hand-in-hand with the exacting South American stages, and he was immediately won over by the new car’s design. “The philosophy behind the 2008 DKR marks a radical break and packs a high number of new ideas,” remarked the Spaniard. “The end result is like no other two-wheel drive car. It is very compact and that’s good. Having done the last two Dakars in a two-wheel drive car, I am convinced it is a solution that can win the event.”