Peugeot will return to the Dakar after 25 years with the 2008 DKR model.
Four questions to Maxime Picat, Peugeot CEO
What is the reason for Peugeot’s Dakar comeback?
Maxime Picat: “It obviously follows in the wake of our Pikes Peak victory in 2013. That was a very special moment which showcased what Peugeot Sport is capable of achieving in association with Total and Red Bull. It was a win that gave us wings and led us to take a close look at what other motorsport programmes we could do together. The result of that process was the decision to return to the Dakar.”
Is Peugeot’s Dakar programme as ambitious as last year’s Pikes Peak operation?
Maxime Picat: “Our Pikes Peak programme was a success because we succeeded in bringing together an outstanding driver, a remarkable team and a car of the very highest quality. We have set our sights high for the Dakar, too, and the team will once again be able to count on all the necessary talent and skills. Our intention is to have everything in place for next year’s Dakar, even though our strategy is based on a longer term than was the case for the Pikes Peak Hill Climb, since we will be involved for several years. We are perfectly aware that the Dakar is a very difficult event but our aim is nonetheless to win at first attempt in 2015.”
Maxime Picat: “We are delighted to be returning to the Dakar because it’s an event which enjoys extensive coverage globally. It is well known in Europe, as well as in such important markets as South America and China. It takes place in South America, with much of the action in Argentina where Peugeot has traditionally enjoyed a strong foothold.”
Why did you decide to compete with the 2008?
Maxime Picat: “The 2008 conveys a strong image on every continent. It is our latest crossover and is proving a big hit in Europe, ahead of its launches in China and Latin America in 2015. The 2008 DKR stood out as the obvious choice.”
Three questions to Bruno Famin, Director of Peugeot Sport
Peugeot Sport can look back at an excellent record on the Dakar. Will your past results be of help for your new challenge?
Bruno Famin: “The Dakar has changed a great deal in the past 25 years but you still design cars in the same way. We still have a certain amount of data from the late 1980s which we will be able to use. Above all, though, we have built up considerable experience of designing rally cars. Cross-country rallies and conventional rallies are effectively slightly different, but the approach and knowhow are exactly the same. And that know-how is something we have.”
Bruno Famin: “First let me say how proud the team is to be able to count on the services of two such hugely talented drivers as Carlos and Cyril. Their respective profiles are perfectly complementary. Carlos has an incredible record in motorsport and his car development skills are well documented. In all the teams he has worked with, he has contributed to producing winning cars. His experience will be an important asset for the team, while his enthusiasm and will to win are just as exceptional. Cyril has an impressive record, too, although on bikes, of course, and he is looking forward to discovering the world of motorsport on four wheels. Judging by the way the two are getting along together, I am sure it won’t be long before Cyril is competitive.”
How did the staff at Peugeot Sport respond to the news of this comeback?
Bruno Famin: “The reaction of everyone at Peugeot Sport has been very good. The announcement of a programme for the medium term is obviously excellent news after the difficult years we have experienced recently. At the same time, the Dakar is an integral part of Peugeot’s history and everyone is very proud to be involved in this event again. We actually still have some people who were part of the original adventure, and one of them has already started working on the new project.”
What made you decide to join Peugeot?
Carlos Sainz: “I have often competed against Peugeot Sport in the past and I have known for years just how passionate it is about motorsport. I also know that when they decide on a programme, they put everything into it. I’m the same. Given how much I love the Dakar, it was too good a proposal to resist when Peugeot asked me to be part of its line-up for its comeback to this unique adventure.”
Peugeot hasn’t done the Dakar for 25 years. Do you see that as a handicap?
Carlos Sainz: “I don’t think so, because Peugeot has never stopped making cars of a very high standard for disciplines like rallying and endurance racing. The new 208 T16 R5 is a fine example. At the same time, I have already won the Dakar and I will be able to bring my own experience of the event in four-wheel and two-wheel drive cars to the table. We are ready for the challenge.”
Do you believe the team can be competitive quickly?
Carlos Sainz: “In motorsport, you can never take anything for granted. The level of competition on the Dakar today is very high and it’s an event that really isn’t easy to win. We won’t have much time before our first attempt, either, but I feel confident because the team is clearly extremely motivated and we will work hard to try to win.”
Carlos Sainz in brief
Born April 12, 1962, in Madrid, Spain. Lives in Madrid, Spain. - Winner of the Dakar in 2010
- Seven previous Dakar participations: one victory (2010), one 3rd place (2011), one 9th place (2007), one 11th place (2006) and three retirements (2009, 2013 and 2014)
- Winner of the Cross-Country Rally World Cup in 2007
- Two-time World Rally Champion (1990 and 1992) and four-time runner-up
- 26 World Rally Championship victories
You enjoyed a highly successful career as a biker, with five Dakar wins to your name. Why have you decided to switch to four wheels?
Cyril Despres: “It was a natural process. When you do the Dakar on a motorbike, you can spend up to 10 hours on your own every day, so you have plenty of time to reflect on different things. In fact, the idea dawned on me during last January’s Dakar, then Peugeot and Red Bull came up with this incredible opportunity. I am very proud. I didn’t take me long to weigh up the pros and the cons! For me, it’s a dream come true and the beginning of a new life.”
How are you approaching this new challenge?
Cyril Despres: “I am aware that this is a tremendous opportunity to join the car guys at the sharp end, and with a competitive and professional team like Peugeot. I’m not sure I would have made the same jump for another team. I have strong recollections of Peugeot winning the Dakar when I was a kid and I can’t wait to get a chance to drive the new car…”
Certain successful bikers have gone on to win the Dakar on four wheels. What is your objective?
Cyril Despres: “To begin with, my aim will be to learn and help as much as I can. I should be able to make good progress in a team like Peugeot and with a teammate like Carlos Sainz. That’s so stimulating. I really want to familiarise myself with the way these cars function and how to drive them, as well as with how to work with a co-driver. Sharing so much time with someone sitting next to you will be difficult because I’ve been accustomed to being on my own for the past 15 years!”
Cyril Despres in brief
Born January 24, 1974, in Fontainebleau, France. Lives in Andorra.
- Five-time Dakar bike winner (2005, 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2013)
- 14 previous Dakar participations on two-wheels: five victories, three 2nd places (2006, 2009 and 2011), one 3rd place (2004), two 4th places (2003 and 2014), one 13th place (2001), one 16th place (2000) and one retirement (2002)
- Cross-Country Rally World Champion (2003)
- World Team Enduro Champion (2001)