Nine-time World Rally champion Sebastien Loeb will begin a new chapter in his career as he joins Peugeot for an assault on the 2016 Dakar Rally.
Loeb, who called time on his full-time WRC career at the end of 2013 to join Citroen's WTCC squad, will tackle the legendary South American event at the wheel of Peugeot's all-new 2008DKR16 alongside long-time co-driver Daniel Elena.
The Frenchman will be joined by Peugeot's three drivers from this year's edition - his former Citroen WRC teammate Carlos Sainz, 11-time Dakar winner Stephane Peterhansel and Cyril Despres, a five-time champion of the motorbike category who converted to four wheels this year.
"The Dakar is completely different from the racing I’m doing at the moment," said Loeb, who has taken five WTCC wins in his fledgling touring car career to add to his incredible haul of 78 WRC victories.
"It will be very long, over two weeks, and you need to have the endurance to look after the driver and the car. It’s another approach to racing but I’ll discover that in January."
As preparation, Loeb will contest Rally Morocco, which gets underway on October 3, in an older specification 2008DKR that he tried for the first time during testing in June.
“What struck me most of all is how the Dakar car was a completely new experience," said Loeb.
"In the WRC I have been used to going round obstacles but with this car you can just drive straight over them, and it takes some time to have the confidence to believe it!"
“I’ve also been used to having very detailed pace notes: in Cross Country, you have to find the road for yourself and improvise your route.
"And this is actually the first time I have driven any type of diesel car in competition too. So there is a lot for me to learn, but I am eager to find out more.”
Loeb is no stranger to Peugeot machinery, having taken a 208 T16 to the Pikes Peak hillclimb record two years ago.
Peugeot Sport's Bruno Famin said: “Sebastien was impressive from the moment he first sat in the car, as we knew would be the case after having had the privilege of working with him before.
"He took his usual measured approached to understand the car step by step: from there his natural ability took over.
"Having improved the car in several different areas since we were last at the Dakar, the signing of Sebastien Loeb is the final piece in the puzzle.”
Peugeot, which took four successive Dakar victories from 1987-1990, suffered a difficult return to the event last year, Peterhansel taking the marque's best finish with 11th while Despres placed 34th and Sainz retired.
The 2016 Dakar Rally will take place in Argentina and Bolivia, and has its first stage on January 3.
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