|The stage is set for the toughest cross-country rally in the world, the 2018 Dakar Rally. The Peugeot 3008DKR Maxi is taking center stage in Lima as the 2018 Dakar Rally departs for a 9,000km quest across South America.|
Team Peugeot have announced that this will be their final Dakar for the foreseeable future and the only question that remains to be answered is can they bow out with yet another car class win… 12 months ago Peugeot celebrated a clean sweep of the podium places at the 2017 Dakar as Stéphane Peterhansel handed them back-to-back victories. A third straight title would make Team Peugeot one of the Invicinbles of the Dakar. “In my opinion, this could be one of the best Dakars that has ever taken place in South America.”said Peterhansel. The crews of Peterhansel, Carlos Sainz, Sébastien Loeb and Cyril Despres have unprecedented Dakar success between them. This quartet can claim 19 Dakar victories combined (including bikes and cars), plus 11 World Rally Championship titles. Meanwhile, Peugeot has six wins from seven Dakar participations (1987 to 1990; 2015 to 2017).
Peugeot’s challenger, the 3008DKR Maxi
The 3008DKR Maxi remains two-wheel drive but has gained over two metres in width on the car that won last year in a move to bring greater stability to the machine. “This is now the ultimate evolution of what was already a very good car,” commented Sainz.
“The shakedown gave us the chance to get back in the car and adjust two or three small details. There were no particular surprises. Everything went well and I’m just looking forward to getting going now. It’s hard to know exactly what to expect: we’re going to start the rally over the sort of terrain that isn’t ideally suited to me,” explained Loeb. “Having said that, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t know how to get through it. Navigation will play a very important part. The fact that maps are now banned is a worry though. Sometimes, they’re useful so that you can just reset and start off again on a proper basis. It’s going to make life more complicated.”
Despres, the former Dakar bike champ, commented, “It feels fantastic to be driving the 3008DKR Maxi again. Before the shakedown, I hadn’t driven it on gravel since the start of November. It was beginning to feel like a while ago! But on the shakedown, I felt at home immediately, enjoying a good feeling with the car and full confidence. I’m delighted that we’re starting from Peru. I’ve already taken part in two Dakars there and I won on each occasion: on motorbikes a few years ago. So why not go for the hat trick? Peru is a fantastic country. The first time we raced here, I had the impression of being back in the dunes of the Sahara Desert! It’s simply magnificent. The fact that this year’s route is much more of a rally-raid than a conventional rally is a good omen for myself and David (Castera).”
Joining Peugeot as frontrunners on the road from Lima to Pisco on the first day were Team Kamaz Master., the Truck category contenders. The Russians have won 14 of the last 21 Dakar truck races and have four crews entered into the rally all capable of added another victory to their tally. Reigning champion Eduard Nikolaev now has two wins as a driver to go along with his triumph as a mechanic partnering Vladimir Chagin. Chagin, Kamaz Team Captain since retiring as a driver, celebrated his birthday on the eve of the 2018 Dakar and his crew have promised him a special present at the finish line in Cordoba, Argentina on 20 January.