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Peugeot's comeback victory "sooner than expected" - Peterhansel

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Peugeot's comeback victory "sooner than expected" - Peterhansel
By:
Jan 17, 2016, 9:48 AM

Dakar Rally legend Stephane Peterhansel has admitted his Peugeot team was not expecting to win the event so soon after its return.

Car category winner Stéphane Peterhansel, Peugeot Sport
#302 Peugeot: Stéphane Peterhansel, Jean-Paul Cottret
#302 Peugeot: Stéphane Peterhansel, Jean-Paul Cottret
#302 Peugeot: Stéphane Peterhansel, Jean-Paul Cottret
#302 Peugeot: Stéphane Peterhansel, Jean-Paul Cottret
#314 Peugeot: Sébastien Loeb, Daniel Elena
#321 Peugeot: Cyril Despres, David Castera

Having dominated the rally between 1987-1990 with Ari Vatanen and Juha Kankkunen, Peugeot made its return to the Dakar in 2015 - but none of its 2008DKR machines managed to finish in the top 10.

However, the new 2008DKR16 proved all-conquering in this year's event, winning nine of 13 stages and giving Peterhansel a provisional 12th Dakar title, pending the outcome of an X-raid Mini appeal.

"It's a dream to win again - and a lot sooner than expected by us," Peterhansel told Motorsport.com.

"It was surprising because we started the project just a year ago. We should be very proud as the project was very complicated in the beginning."

Peterhansel had trailed teammate Sebastien Loeb in week one of the rally, and then briefly dropped behind another fellow Peugeot of Carlos Sainz, but eventually came out on top.

"We had a normal race," he said. "At first it was difficult, because in the first week everything was very fast, and WRC drivers Carlos Sainz and Sebastien Loeb were better than me in the first days.

"But in the second week there were mistakes, I concentrated on not making them and avoiding collisions. I have a lot of experience, but also a great team behind me."

Peterhansel's sentiment was echoed by Peugeot team manager Bruno Famin, who stated that the win had felt "unlikely".

"Frankly I did not expect anything," he said. "Obviously when you go to Dakar or any competition, you think about winning, but it appeared unlikely.

"We had two main objectives - show the potential of the car, which we did, and bring the maximum amount of 2008DKR16s to the end.

"We have three cars in the top 10 and the first place, I think that surpasses all expectations we had prior to the competition."

Interviews by Luis Ramirez

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