PARIS: Peugeot is set to compete in the historic Dakar Rally in 2015—the first time in 25 years, race organizers announced last week.
“We welcome the return of the lion [Peugeot’s nickname because of its badge depicting a lion] to the Dakar,” rally director Etienne Lavigne said in a news conference held to unveil the details of next year’s race.
Peugeot was dominant in the grueling rally in the late ’80s, winning four times from 1987, but pulled out in 1990.
Former World Rally champion Carlos Sainz, five-time Dakar bike champion Cyril Despres and another as-yet unnamed driver—possibly Dakar legend and 11-time winner Stephane Peterhansel—will be at the wheels of their 2008 Crossovers, Peugeot announced.
“Carlos is an extremely experienced driver, an exceptional man with an incredible charisma,” said Peugeot Sport Director Bruno Famin.
Turning to Despres, he said; “He’s going to switch from two to four wheels and will bring us relative youth.”
Peugeot said its return “recalls a particularly successful period in the history of the French team, which made an indelible mark on the Dakar by winning the legendary competition four years running from 1987 until 1990.”
“We are committed for several years regarding the event and our rivals. We also want to win starting from 2015,” Peugeot Director Maxime Picat said.
Next year’s Dakar Rally will start and end in Buenos Aires, Argentina, covering 9,000 kilometers and passing through Chile and Bolivia on the way. There will be 13 stages in three countries, but the rally will not take in Peru this time for budgetary reasons.
Lavigne said one new feature would be “marathon stages in every category, not only for motorbikes and quads like this year but also for cars and trucks, at different times on different terrains.” He added the aim is to “increase the difficulty and interest in this 2015 edition.”
“Car and truck drivers will be auto-sufficient for two days. They’ll sleep in the same conditions as motorbike riders. They won’t have any outside help nor mechanical or logistical support. It’ll be interesting to see the top drivers tackling these basic conditions as the support vehicles comprise almost half the fleet,” Lavigne said.