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ERC Kenotek by CID LINES Ypres Rally preview: European elite head to Ypres, as ŠKODA Fabia R5 makes its FIA European Rally Championship debut with Freddy Loix.


ERC Ypres Rally preview

23 June 2015

This year’s Kenotek by CID LINES Ypres Rally has received a magnificent 80-car entry, with over half – 44 cars – coming from the 2015 FIA European Rally Championship.

There are an incredible 21 four-wheel-drive ERC1 R5/Super 2000 cars on the entry list: five Citroën DS3 R5s, five ŠKODA Fabia S2000s, four Peugeot 208 T16s, three Ford Fiesta R5s, two Fiesta RRCs, a Fiesta S2000 and, making its ERC debut in the hands of nine-time Ypres Rally winner Freddy Loix, a ŠKODA Fabia R5. The ERC Junior championship will also be hotly contested, with 16 young drivers out to prove their speed on one of the most famous and technically challenging European rallies.

This year’s Ypres Rally follows a traditional and much-loved two-day format, with competition taking place over 17 special stages (nine different) on the fast and flat asphalt roads in the Flemish province of West Flanders. The compact route sees a 50-50 liaison-stage kilometre split, while the start, finish and service area is based in Grote Markt in the heart of Ypres – one of the most atmospheric and fan-friendly service areas in the sport.

The action gets underway at 20h15 on Thursday 25 June, when all ERC-registered crews will take part in Qualifying, run over a 4,79 kilometre stage near the village of Nieuwkerke. Friday (26 June) will include the start order selection, where the fastest 15 drivers from Qualifying pick their starting position with the fastest choosing first. The rally starts at 16h15 followed by four stages covering 48,07 kilometres before a 30-minute service in Ypres at 19h25, and then another three stages covering 35,51 kilometres before a 45-minute flexi-service to end leg one after a total of 83,58 kilometres. Leg two on Saturday (27 June) starts at 10h20 and features 10 stages (totalling 169,8kms) taking place over a gruelling 10 hours of non-stop action – including two runs over Hollebeke (SS12 and 17) which, at 23,23 kilometres, is the longest test of the event. There are three 30-minute visits to the service area at 13h48, 16h32 and 19h55, before the finish ceremony at Grote Markt at 22h30.

Route changes spice up Ypres for 2015
There are some interesting changes to the route of this year’s Kenotek by CID LINES Ypres Rally, namely:
* Langemark (SS1): run as the opening stage this year and features the return of the famous roundabout section.
* Wijtschate (SS3/6): shorter version, with changes to the last part of the stage.
* Watou (SS9/14): most of the stage is new. Part was used last year, but in the opposite direction.
* Westouter-Boeschepe (SS10/15): the stage starts in Belgium and ends in France. The last 10 kilometres in France is very technical and was last used on the Ypres Rally 48 years ago. As French safety legislation is very different to the Belgian rules, spectators will only be allowed in secured public areas.
* Kemmelberg (SS11/16): second part of the stage is new. The famous Monteberg hillclimb will be run in a downhill direction.

Breen aims to extend ERC and ERC Asphalt Masters lead in Ypres
Craig Breen will have title aspirations in mind when he contests the Kenotek by CID LINES Ypres Rally. Having won three ERC events in a row, the on-form Peugeot Rally Academy 208 T16 driver arrives in Belgium with a 14-point advantage over second-placed Kajetan Kajetanowicz, and Breen will have a great chance to extend that gap as Ypres was never part of Kajetanowicz’s plans for 2015. There are plenty of other drivers capable of stealing ERC points off him, as the event has received another magnificent entry. There are four Peugeot 208 T16s on the lists (in addition to Breen there is Bruno Magalhães, ERC Junior champion Stéphane Lefebvre and 2005 Ypres winner Kris Princen), five Citroën DS3 R5s (driven by Kevin Abbring, Bryan Bouffier, Cédric Cherain, Vincent Verschueren and Florent Honney) and five ŠKODA Fabia S2000s (Jaroslav Orsák, Petter Kristiansen, Antonín Tlusťák, Jaromír Tarabus and Martin McCormack). Ford hasn’t won the Ypres Rally since Patrick Snijers (Escort Cosworth) in 1994, and the Blue Oval’s hopes this year lie with Sam and Josh Moffett (Fiesta RRCs), Euan Thorburn (Fiesta S2000) and Didier Duquesne, Davy Vanneste and Bernd Casier (Fiesta R5s). But the man who will start as favourite will be Freddy Loix. He has won the event nine times, and is giving the all-new ŠKODA Fabia R5 its ERC debut.

Drivers unite as Abbring teams up with former Ypres winner Tsjoen
Kevin Abbring will have a navigator better known for his driving skills reading the pace notes in Ypres this year, when 2001 event winner and eight-time Belgian rally champion Pieter Tsjoen shares his privately-entered Citroën DS3 R5. Tsjoen is no stranger to the co-driver’s seat and navigated for Stéphane Lefebvre on the Rallye de Wallonie earlier this year. It’s entirely possible that Tsjoen could add another Ypres victory to his long list of accolades – Hyundai WRC test driver Abbring was the star of last year’s event, leading from the start and recording nine fastest stage times before mechanical problems forced his retirement on SS13. On his first Ypres Rally in a four-wheel-drive car, Abbring received the prestigious Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy. Meanwhile, Lefebvre will be back with regular co-driver Stéphane Prevot in Ypres.

Baby boom gives Štajf golden opportunity to extend ERC2 lead
Vojtěch Štajf will have a great opportunity to extend his slender four-point ERC2 lead as nearest rival Dávid Botka misses the Ypres Rally – with co-driver Péter Mihalik set to become a father over the same weekend! Having successfully contested his first-ever gravel rally in the Azores, Štajf will be happy to be back on Tarmac as he pushes for maximum points in his Subaru Duck Czech National Team Impreza WRX STI. However, with one rapid Hungarian driver missing, the Czech driver will have another snapping at his heels. Tibor Érdi finished third in last year’s ERC Production Car Cup standings and makes his second ERC2 start of 2015 in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X.

Bergkvist leads magnificent 16-car ERC Junior field to Belgium
Series leader Emil Bergkvist heads a big 16 ERC Junior driver entry on the Kenotek by CID LINES Ypres Rally. In a pre-event test the on-form Swedish driver, who turned 21 on Wednesday, won his class and finished fourth overall on the recent Rally van Wervik, and the power of his Adam R2 will suit the fast West Flanders roads. There are a number of other Adams that will be a huge threat, namely Bergkvist’s ADAC Opel Rallye Junior team-mate Marijan Griebel, fellow German Julius Tannert, who currently leads the ADAC Opel Rallye Cup and is starting his first Ypres Rally, and hard-charging Pole Aleks Zawada. Opel scored a one-two on the previous Tarmac round in Ireland and is expected to be very strong again, although it is Peugeot that once again has the biggest representation with 11 208s on the starting list. They are led by Chris Ingram – currently second at the midway point in the Michelin-supported ERC Junior championship – who is hoping for wet conditions so he can capitalise on the car’s superb chassis. The Englishman makes his third Ypres Rally start and, having scored his first win on SATA Rallye Açores, plans to be “absolutely flat-out from the first corner” and try to lead from the front. Portugal’s Diogo Gago scored a career-best second-place finish in the Azores and makes his Ypres Rally debut full of confidence in his Peugeot Rally Academy R2, while Sport Racing Technologies team-mates Ralfs Sirmacis and Vasily Gryazin are always ones to watch in their 208s. Ypres’ smooth and fast roads are a lot different to the bumpy Irish lanes Jon Armstrong is used to, but he’ll be keen to put his Tarmac experience to good use. Two recent asphalt rounds of the Polish rally championship may prove good preparation for Łukasz Pieniążek, while Napoca Rally Academy’s Florin Tincescu has plenty of Romanian asphalt experience too and Belgium’s Gino Bux will be hoping to end his run of bad luck in his Peugeot Belgium-Luxembourg 208. Hungarian teenager Kristóf Klausz returns in his 208 as does the flamboyant Swede, Mattias Adielsson. ERC Junior newcomers Joachim Wageman and Amaury Molle add local spice in their 208 and Ford Fiesta R2.

Ogryzek returns to improve ERC3 position
Sławomir Ogryzek won the ERC3 class by over four minutes in Austria, taking his Rallytechnology-run Peugeot 208 R2 to an incredible 11th overall on the opening round – and now the Polish driver returns, aiming to improve on his current fifth position in the standings. The battle for ERC3 honours outside the ERC Junior category in Belgium will be a good one, as Rok Turk also returns. He’ll be driving a 208 R2 but recently scored a sensational victory on the FUCHS Saturnus Rally Velenje, a round of his home Slovenian national championship, on his first event in a Peugeot 206 T16. Hungary’s Szabolcs Várkonyi makes it three 208s in this class, while defending ERC Ladies’ Trophy champion Ekaterina Stratieva brings her Citroën C2 R2 from Bulgaria having enjoyed a good run on the recent Danube Delta Rally – in which she set the best class time and the second best two-wheel-drive time overall on the event’s only Tarmac stage. The local challenge comes from ERC newcomer Polle Geusens, driving a Fiesta R2.

Superstar quartet turn out for FIA R-GT Cup
A quartet of motorsport superstars will contest the FIA R-GT Cup category on the Ypres Rally including two former event winners – Patrick Snijers, who won the rally four years in a row (1991-94), and Marc Duez, who won in 1982. They’ll be up against rally legend François Delecour and one of motorsport’s most versatile drivers, Romain Dumas, who was part of the Le Mans 24 Hours-winning Porsche team. All four will drive Porsches – three aboard a 911 GTS and Snijers in a 997 GTS.

ERC privateer prize fund reaches 110,000 Euros – and counting
ERC promoter Eurosport Events has already given away 110,000 Euros in its lucrative privateer prize fund this year, and another 20,000 Euros will be up for grabs in Ypres. A total of 20,000 Euros was awarded at the opening Internationale Jännerrallye powered by GaGa Energy in Austria, at Rally Liepāja in Latvia and at the Discover Northern Ireland Circuit of Ireland Rally, while 50,000 Euros was awarded to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the SATA Rallye Açores. The top seven privateer drivers will be presented with cheques at the finish in Belgium, ensuring a drop of the famous local beer will be on them! To be eligible for ERC privateer prize money drivers must register for the ERC, receive no manufacturer support*, use tyres from one of the three ERC partner companies (Michelin, Pirelli and Yokohama) and not compete in a Regional Rally Car. *Eurosport Events will determine privateer status in consultation with the manufacturer in question.

What is Kenotek by CID Lines?
Kenotek by CID LINES is the new title sponsor of the Ypres Rally, with a three-year agreement starting this year. But what is it? Under the brand name Kenotek, CID LINES developed a state-of-the-art range of innovative products for the maintenance and care of vehicles. Kenotek is the market leader in Belgium with a range focused on all companies that are in one way or another involved in Vehicle Care, car washes, truck washes and garages through to workshops for vehicles and machinery.


Q&A: Freddy Loix
Freddy Loix has won the Ypres Rally nine times. This year, ‘Fast Freddy’ is attempting to make it win number 10, while giving the ŠKODA Fabia R5 its FIA European Rally Championship debut.

How confident are you of making it win number 10 in Ypres against such tough competition?
“I’m not somebody that will say that I will win the Ypres Rally because it’s a long rally and there are a lot of very good pilots at the start. But of course, I will not deny that my target is to win.”

How competitive do you think the new ŠKODA Fabia R5 will be on the fast and technical Ypres stages?
“I think the ŠKODA Fabia R5 will be very competitive on the Ypres stages, but it’s up to me to adapt myself to the new car – which I will certainly have to do well when I drive at over 170kph.”

It’s a new car, but how well do you know the Fabia R5?
“I have already done thousands of kilometres with the car, so I think I know it pretty well!”

Having helped to develop the Fabia R5, what other ERC events do you think the car would do well on?
“For sure the fast rallies, Barum and that sort of rally, will suit the Fabia R5 very well, but I’m pretty sure that the car will be good and competitive on all ERC events.”

Will the Fabia R5 be run by ŠKODA Motorsport or another team – as in 2014, when Bernard Munster ran your winning Fabia S2000?
“My winning team BMA will run my car in Ypres again this year.”

What makes Ypres so special and what makes you come back each year?
“Ypres is the most important rally in Belgium, the best organised and it is also a round of the Belgian rally championship. And of course, there is a good after-party!”

What advice can you give to the ERC Junior drivers, especially the ones contesting Ypres for the first time?
“My advice for the ERC Junior drivers would be to look very closely where, and how, to cut the corners.”

* History was made on last year’s Ypres Rally when ERC Junior drivers Andrea Crugnola and Stéphane Lefebvre finished the event tied on time after a final-stage showdown. Lefebvre took the win due to the fact he was fastest in class on the opening stage.
* Belgian legend Freddy Loix, meanwhile, remains the man to beat outright on the Ypres Rally. The 44-year-old achieved a record ninth overall victory on last year’s event in a ŠKODA Fabia S2000 shared with Johan Gitsels.
* Founded in 1965 by Frans Thévelin, the Ypres Rally has hosted other famous winners including Walter Röhrl (1976, Opel Kadett), Henri Toivonen (1984, Porsche 911), Jimmy McRae (1987, Ford Sierra RS Cosworth) and current Citroën WRC driver Kris Meeke (2009, Peugeot 207 S2000).
* Loix started his winning streak in 1996 aboard a Toyota Celica GT-Four and notched up four victories in a row, but didn’t win again until 2008 in another Peugeot 207.
* Besides the rally, last year Ypres had the honour of hosting the start of stage five in the 101st Tour de France, won by Italian cyclist Vincenzo Nibali.

On the event’s 50th anniversary, local hero Freddy Loix won the Ypres Rally for the ninth time. Co-driven by Johan Gitsels, he took his ŠKODA Fabia S2000 to a 1m09.9s victory over Cédric Cherain (Ford Fiesta R5), who in turn celebrated his first ERC podium finish. It was far from the start-to-finish win Loix enjoyed in 2013. Starting Saturday’s final leg, he trailed Kevin Abbring by 24.8 seconds but moved in front when the Dutchman retired his Peugeot 208T16 with mechanical problems. Sepp Wiegand finished as best Ypres rookie in third for ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland, with Hermen Kobus (Ford Fiesta S2000) fourth and triple ERC champion Luca Rossetti (ŠKODA Fabia S2000) fifth, having fought back from an early visit to a ditch. Stéphane Lefebvre won ERC Junior, but only after a tie-break separated him from fellow Peugeot 208 R2 driver Andrea Crugnola. Despite losing time with a puncture, Andy Lefevere (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X) won the ERC Production Car Cup for a second year running, coming home seventh overall. Crashes put some big-name drivers out, including Esapekka Lappi (ŠKODA Fabia S2000), Xevi Pons (Fiesta R5), Pieter Tsjoen (Peugeot 208 T16) and Antonín Tlusťák (Fabia S2000), while Craig Breen suffered a myriad of technical issues in his 208 T16.

EVENT ESSENTIALS (all timings local)

Starts: 16h15, Friday 26 June, podium, Grote Markt, Ypres

Finishes: 22h30, Saturday 27 June, podium, Grote Markt, Ypres

Headquarters: Neermarkt, 8900 Ypres, Belgium

Service park: Grote Markt, Ypres

ERC appearances (since the restructuring in 2004): 11

Stages: 17

Stage distance: 253.38 kilometres (83.58 kilometres leg one, 169.80 kilometres leg two)

Liaison: 252.20 kilometres

Total: 505.58 kilometres

Surface: Asphalt


Media accreditation/media centre: Novotel Ieper Centrum, Sint Jacobsstraat 15, B-8900 Ypres

Opening times: 14h00-18h00, Wednesday 24 June; 10h00-12h00/14h00-20h00, Thursday 25 June; 08h00-01h00, Friday 26 June; 08h00-02h00, Saturday 27 June

Thursday 25 June

Free Practice (for priority drivers): 18h00-20h00, Nieuwkerke (4,79 kilometres), 18kms from the service park

Qualifying Stage (for priority drivers): 20h05-21h15, Nieuwkerke (4,79 kilometres)

Shakedown (for non-priority drivers): 21h30-23h00, Nieuwkerke (4,79 kilometres)

Friday 26 June

Start order selection: 13h00, podium, Grote Markt, Ypres

Pre-rally press conference: 14h30, Media Centre, Novotel, Ypres

Saturday 27 June

Post-event press conference: 23h15, Media Centre, Novotel, Ypres. Top three drivers and co-drivers and leading ERC Junior crew in attendance

Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy presentation: Immediately following the post-event press conference, Media Centre.

















Paul Evans
Media FIA ERC 2015

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Media Toni Gardemeister Driving Academy
Rally Report Magazine Argentina

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Rally Report Magazine Argentina 15 años




This post is also available in: English (Inglés) Deutsch (Alemán) Español




30 September 2015

Chris Atkinson has won the latest round of the Chinese Rally Championship in the VW Golf SCRC. Atkinson won comfortably by a minute and 40 seconds from Mark Higgins in the Subaru and Manfred Stohl in a Citroen DS3.

Chen Dean in the second Golf was fifth with Li ninth in the third car.

That makes it three wins from four events for Atkinson as the Championship heads to the next round Longyou at the end of October. Longyou was the debut event for the VW Golf SCRC last year when Atkinson to its maiden win.












Cedric Journel / Dongwei Zhang
Media & Comunication
Faw-Volkswagen Rally Team

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Rally Report Magazine Argentina

Ben Sayer
Media Prodrive Motorsport

Foto: Media Prodrive Motorsport

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Rally Report Magazine Argentina 15 años




This post is also available in: English (Inglés) Deutsch (Alemán) Español


La leyenda del rally Sébastien Loeb se une al “Dream Team” de Peugeot-Total.

Sebastien Loeb poses for a portrait in Peugeot Sport workshop, France, on September 21, 2015
Sébastien Loeb, el mejor piloto de rally de todos los tiempos, se enfrentará al mayor reto de su carrera al unirse por primera vez al equipo de Peugeot en el legendario Dakar del próximo mes de enero.


29 Septiembre 2015

El nueve veces campeón del WRC y plusmarquista del Pikes Peak se ha unido al equipo de Peugeot 2008DKR junto a Carlos Sainz para el Rally du Maroc del próximo mes (del 3 al 9 de octubre) antes de hacer frente al mayor reto de este deporte, el Dakar, durante 13 días en Argentina y Bolivia en 2016. Junto a él en Sudamérica también estarán Stéphane Peterhansel y Cyril Despres completando así el “dream team” de pilotos de Peugeot-Total.

El francés de 41 años, Sébastien Loeb, uno de los pilotos con más éxito de la historia de los deportes de motor con un porcentaje de victorias sin precedentes del 46,2% en el WRC dijo: “Descubrí los deportes de motor cuando tenía 18 años y empecé a competir en mis primeros rallys. Desde entonces me han interesado todo tipo de deportes de motor y el Dakar es uno de ellos. Creo que es un gran reto competir y conducir en el desierto”.

“El Dakar es completamente diferente a las carreras que hago en este momento. va a ser muy larga, más de dos semanas, y necesitas tener aguante para cuidar del conductor y del coche. Es una carrera con un enfoque distinto pero lo descubriré en enero”.

Hasta entonces, Loeb se unirá a Sainz en Marruecos para su debut en el competitivo Cross Country, aunque ya pilotó el rival de Peugeot a principios de año. Para Loeb ésta será una reunión muy especial pues ya fue compañero de equipo de Sainz durante su primera temporada completa en el Mundial de Rallys del 2003, hasta que el español se tuvo que retirar del WRC de 2004. En Marruecos Sainz pilotará el último Peugeot 2008DKR16 mientras que Loeb pilotará un coche con especificaciones de 2015.

“Cuando probé el PEUGEOT 2008DKR en junio me sorprendió muchísimo y por supuesto ha cambiado mucho desde entonces”, dijo Loeb -que en la actualidad está compitiendo en el Campeonato Mundial de Turismos de la FIA con Citroen.

“Lo que más me impactó fue lo diferente que es conducir el coche del Dakar, era una experiencia completamente nueva para mí. En el WRC acostumbro a rodear obstáculos pero con este coche puedes simplemente pasar por encima, ¡y cuesta tener la suficiente confianza en uno mismo para creer que puedes hacerlo!”

“ También estoy acostumbrado a tener notas de copiloto muy detalladas pero en el Cross Country tienes que abrirte paso e improvisar tu ruta. Esta, además, es la primera vez que he pilotado diferentes tipos de coche diesel en una competición por lo que tengo que aprender mucho pero tengo muchas ganas de hacerlo”.

Además de haber ganado más rallys, etapas especiales y campeonatos que cualquier otro piloto, Sébastien Loeb también se ha convertido en el “Rey del Peak” al batir el record del Pikes Peak Hillclimb con Peugeot y Red Bull hace dos años en América. Un triunfo épico que ya forma parte de la historia legendaria de los deportes de motor.

Ahora forma parte del mejor equipo que se haya enfrentado jamás al Dakar. Tal y como dijo el 11 veces campeón del Dakar Stéphane Peterhansel: “Sébastien Loeb es un referente del motor. Hay muy poco que yo o cualquier otro le pueda enseñar”.

El cinco veces campeón de motos Cyril Despres añadió: “Desde que cambié las dos ruedas por cuatro, la experiencia no ha hecho más que mejorar. Y saber que ahora Sébastien se une al equipo la remata aún más”.

El dos veces campeón del WRC y campeón del Dakar en 2010 Carlos Sainz, que será una vez más el compañero de Loeb en Marruecos dijo: “No tengo nada más que decir sobre Sébastien que no haya dicho ya. Por supuesto que el rally raid va a ser una nueva aventura para él, pero va a ser capaz de adaptarse sin problemas. Como yo mismo he podido comprobar aprende muy rápido”.

“El Dakar es algo que me llama, es una gran aventura”, añadió Loeb, quien ya dominó el Pikes Peak y el WTCC. “El rally en Marruecos me mostrará lo que es realmente el Cross Country, así que para mí esta es una oportunidad fantástica para aprender, en especial al lado de unos compañeros tan buenos”.

Tal y como pasó con sus nueve títulos mundiales y sus 78 victorias en el WRC hasta la fecha, Loeb tendrá como copiloto al campeón mundial de deportes de motor monegasco Daniel Elena. Marruecos marcará la vuelta de la pareja con más éxito jamás vista en la historia del motor que emprende una nueva aventura juntos tras 17 gloriosos años en los rallys.

Al igual que Loeb, el copiloto de 42 años Elena nunca ha competido antes en Cross Country, pero se ha preparado a fondo para las exigencias de la navegación más dura del mundo, en la que los equipos tienen que reaccionar rápidamente para conquistar el terreno offroad más sobrecogedor. Cuentan además con la ayuda de un sofisticado sistema de GPS que les guiará de punto a punto.

El director deportivo de Peugeot Bruno Famin comentó: “ Sébastien fue impresionante desde que se sentó en el coche, como ya sabíamos tras haber trabajado con él anteriormente. Adoptó ese enfoque calculado que tanto le caracteriza para entender el coche paso a paso, pero después su habilidad natural se encargó del resto. Tras mejorar diferentes aspectos del coche desde la última vez que estuvimos en el Dakar, el fichaje de Sébastien Loeb es la pieza que le faltaba al puzzle”.


The 2008 DKR 16 in Peugeot Sport workshop, France, on September 21, 2015








Cécile Estenave
Peugeot Sport France

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Media Toni Gardemeister Driving Academy

Rally Report Magazine Argentina
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Rally Report Magazine Argentina 15 años




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Rally Legend Sébastien Loeb joins “D-ream TEAM Peugeot-Total”.

Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena pose for a portrait during the Peugeot test in Erfoud, Morocco on September 16, 2015

Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena pose for a portrait during the Peugeot test in Erfoud, Morocco on September 16, 2015

29 September 2015

Rally Legend Sébastien Loeb joins “D-ream TEAM Peugeot-Total” © Flavien Duhamel/Red Bull Content Pool

Velizy-Villacoublay, France
Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Sébastien Loeb, the greatest rally driver ever, will take on one of the biggest challenges of his illustrious career when he lines up as part of Peugeot’s dream team at the legendary Dakar in January for the first time.

The nine-time World Rally Championship winner and Pikes Peak record-holder has joined Peugeot’s 2008DKR line-up alongside Carlos Sainz for next month’s Rallye du Maroc (October 3-9) before facing the sport’s toughest challenge, the Dakar, over 13 days in Argentina and Bolivia in 2016. Joining him in South America will also be Stéphane Peterhansel and Cyril Despres, completing Team Peugeot Total’s dream team driver line-up.

The 41-year old Loeb, one of the most successful drivers in the history of motorsports, with an unprecedented 46.2% wins-to-starts ratio in WRC, said: “I only discovered motorsports when I was 18 and I started competing in my first rallies. Since then I have been interested in all types of different motorsports and Dakar is one of them. I think it’s a great challenge to go and compete there and drive in the desert.

“The Dakar is completely different from the racing I’m doing at the moment. 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.”

Before then, Loeb will line up with Sainz in Morocco next week for his competitive Cross Country debut – although he already tested Peugeot’s Dakar challenger in the country earlier this year. For Loeb, this will be a very special reunion: he was previously team-mates with Sainz for his very first full season in the World Rally Championship in 2003, until the Spaniard decided to end his WRC career at the end of 2004. In Morocco, Sainz will drive the latest PEUGEOT 2008DKR16 whereas Loeb will drive a 2015-specification car.

“When I tried the PEUGEOT 2008DKR out in June, it was immediately very impressive for me – and of course it has changed a lot since then,” said Loeb, who is currently competing in the FIA WTCC with Citroen.

“What struck me most of all is how the Dakar car was a completely new experience: 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.”

As well as winning more rallies, special stages and championships than any other driver, Sébastien Loeb also became ‘King of the Peak’ when he pulverised the Pikes Peak hill climb record with Peugeot and Red Bull two years ago in America: an epic feat that is already remembered as a legendary part of motorsport history.

Now he forms part of the greatest team ever to tackle the Dakar. As 11-time Dakar winner Stéphane Peterhansel said: “Sébastien Loeb is a reference in motorsport. There’s very little that I, or anybody else, can teach him.”

Five-time bike winner Cyril Despres added: “Since I made the switch from two wheels to four, the experience has got better and better. And to see Sébastien arrive in the team now, everything is complete.”

Two-time WRC champion and Dakar 2010 winner Carlos Sainz, who will be Loeb’s team-mate once more in Morocco, concluded: “There is nothing more I can say about Sébastien that his career hasn’t said already. Of course rally raid will be a new adventure for him, but he has every capacity to adapt to it with no problem. As I have seen for myself in the past, he is a quick learner in everything he does.

“Dakar is something that appeals to me; it is a huge adventure,” added Loeb, who has already mastered rallying, Pikes Peak and the World Touring Car Championship. “The rally in Morocco will give me a very interesting idea of what Cross Country is all about, so this is a fantastic opportunity for me to learn; particularly alongside such successful team-mates.”

Just as has been the case throughout his nine world titles and 78 WRC victories to date, Loeb will be co-driven by Monaco’s motorsport world champion: Daniel Elena. Morocco will mark the comeback of the most successful pairing ever seen in the history of motorsport, as they start a new adventure together following 17 magnificent years in rallying.

Like Loeb, the 42-year-old Elena has never competed in Cross Country before, but he has undergone intensive training to prepare him for the demands of some of the most challenging navigation in the world, where crews have to think instantly on their feet to conquer the daunting off-road landscape. They are aided by sophisticated GPS equipment, guiding their route from waypoint to waypoint.

Peugeot Sport director Bruno Famin commented: “Sébastien 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 Sébastien Loeb is the final piece in the puzzle.”











Cécile Estenave
Peugeot Sport France

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