|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 (29 August – 11 September) which traverses some of the country’s most epic roads.|
The China Silk Road Rally starts in Xi’an, around 1,000 kilometers 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 organizer 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 spread over 13 days and will visit five different provinces: Shaanxi, Ningxia, Inner Mongolia, Gansu and Xinjiang.
It is a breath-taking journey that awaits Team Peugeot 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 and Cyril Despres who are looking forward to the challenges of the event’s historic and highly selective itinerary.
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 familiarization 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 to working with his new co-driver, David Castera, who also needs to acclimatize to a different role.
Known as the 2008 DKR 2015+, the two designated Rally Cars 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. The participation in the China Silk Road Rally marks an important step in the Peugeot 2008 DKR’s development program. Elsewhere, third crew Carlos Sainz is on call to work on the 2016-spec 2008 DKR at a pre-selected location.
Edited: Team Peugeot