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Peugeot updates its 2008 Dakar racer. Image by Peugeot.

Peugeot updates its 2008 Dakar racer
Revised Peugeot 2008 DKR16 is more powerful and more agile.
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C'mere, mate. Wanna buy a Peugeot that can climb over rocks, sand and mud at racing speeds?

I dunno. Maybe. Tell me more.

I've got the real thing here. It's the updated 2008 DKR16 racer, specially made for the Dakar Rally - you know, the one where all the cars break and Mark Thatcher gets lost.

Oh yes, that one. Go on.

Well, Peugeot has made a round of updates to the mental looking Dakar racer it entered last year. The front and rear overhangs have been reduced, which means it can tackle tougher terrain, and it's longer, lower and wider too. There have been revisions to the aero package, including changes to the roof-mounted air intake snorkel, and the suspension has been changed for better weight distribution. There are also lighter, one-piece magnesium wheels and new tyres, supplied by Michelin.

There's also more power for the 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel engine, although Peugeot isn't telling us exactly how much.

The team is as it was - Stéphane Peterhansel (an 11-time winner), Carlos Sainz (a two-time world rally champion and also former Dakar winner) and Cyril Despres (a five-time Dakar winner on bikes). Peugeot Sport Director Bruno Famin, overseeing the final test in Morocco to sign off the latest incarnation of Peugeot's Dakar challenger, commented: "There isn't one big change that we have made on our car: instead it has been a series of small evolutions in different areas, which together we hope will amount to an overall improvement. The areas we have concentrated on include bodywork and aerodynamics - as a result of which the car looks slightly different compared to last year - as well as engine and suspension, which is all under the skin. The tests we have carried out up to now, as well as our one-two finish in China recently, indicate that we are heading in the right direction. You really cannot compare our state of preparation now to how it was for our first Dakar this time last year, when everything was new to us! Of course you can never say that you are completely ready for the Dakar either, because you simply never know what it will throw at you, but certainly this time we are more ready."

Peterhansel and Sainz have driven the new car through the different phases of its development and found it to be a useful step forward from its predecessor, providing greater driveability, power and traction. Peterhansel, who gave the Peugeot 2008 DKR its first-ever overall win in China, said: "You can really feel the difference now that the car is longer and wider, with a lower centre of gravity, because it's a lot more stable so cornering speeds are faster. You can feel the difference in the engine as well: not only is it more powerful, but you can also use all the power even at low revs. We've almost got a 'problem' now of how to manage all that power most effectively, but this is a very nice problem to have. We're still not at the maximum of our capabilities, but testing has been very productive so far."

Sainz stayed behind to concentrate on development work rather than competing in China. As a result, he has accumulated plenty of experience of the brand new challenger. The Spaniard added: "It's been good testing and the car has been running really well. The potential of the car is much, much bigger than it was at this time last year and reliability has been solid too. We've changed quite a lot in the car in many key areas, so really we can call this one a completely new car compared to last year. I feel optimistic."

Neil Briscoe - 22 Sep 2015

2016 Peugeot 2008 DKR. Image by Peugeot.2016 Peugeot 2008 DKR. Image by Peugeot.      - Peugeot road tests
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