The route of the 40th edition of the Dakar proved to be particularly demanding on the mechanical side for teams and drivers. Following this demanding endurance test of nearly 9000 kilometres, not only did the PEUGEOT 3008DKR Maxi win seven out of 13 stages but it also demonstrated remarkable reliability. The only issues encountered were minor gear selection issues. The new BF Goodrich tyres proved to be remarkably strong over the demanding South American terrain, while TOTAL lubricants ensured optimal performance from the engines despite the altitude and extreme conditions.
Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz have been unlucky over the last three Dakars but they bounced back in the strongest possible way. Having driven a masterful rally from the start, the two Spaniards demonstrated both performance and consistency at the wheel of the n°303 PEUGEOT 3008DKR Maxi. They won SS6 and SS7 (out of 14) to take a lead on the marathon stage that they were never to lose. The winners of the 2010 Dakar were on the top step of the podium again by reaching Cordoba with a 43min 40s advantage over their rivals. This victory underlines their unrelenting investment into PEUGEOT’s rally raid project, having put all their expertise and talent into the set-up of the DKR cars.
Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret, the winners of the 2016 and 2017 Dakars with PEUGEOT, had an action-packed rally with two unfortunate setbacks. On SS7, they had to swerve to avoid a quad bike stopped in the middle of the road and destroyed their car’s left-rear suspension against a hidden rock. Then at the start of SS13, the reigning Dakar champions hit a tree, which damaged their power steering. On both occasions, their team mates Cyril Despres/David Castera helped them fix their car and continue. These mishaps meant that they lost first and then second place in the overall classification. Nonetheless they finished fourth after proving to be the fastest crew of the whole Team PEUGEOT Total squad, with three stage victories.
The first Team PEUGEOT Total crew to win a stage on the 2018 Dakar was Cyril Despres and David Castera, who claimed the overall lead at the end of SS2, showing that they have taken another step forward in terms of performance. Unfortunately, the ambitions of the two former bike riders were undone by a rock coming out of the road at kilometre 180 of SS4. This destroyed the right-rear suspension of the car, which stopped the duo in their tracks. With the help of Team PEUGEOT Total’s service truck, also entered in the competition, the n°308 PEUGEOT 3008DKR Maxi crew was able to continue, but with a severe delay. From then on, demonstrating amazing team spirit, the duo dedicated themselves to helping their team mates, while setting some impressive stage times when the opportunity arose (such as on SS8 and SS11). As a result of their 29-hour penalty, Cyril Despres and David Castera were classified some way back, a position which doesn’t represent their true level of performance.
After finishing second on last year’s Dakar, just five minutes behind the winners, Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena started this year’s event with the clear objective of winning. They made a great start to the rally, despite an itinerary through Peru that mainly consisted of dunes and off-piste driving, which was not really to their advantage. They then won SS4 in style, one of the most difficult stages of the modern Dakar in South America. Unfortunately, while running second in the overall classification, they were forced to retire on SS5, between San Juan de Marcona and Arequipa in Peru. Their PEUGEOT 3008DKR Maxi fell into a soft and sandy hole while they were avoiding another competitor who had got stuck. The impact fractured Daniel Elena’s coccyx, making it impossible for him to continue.
This year’s win from Team PEUGEOT Total completes PEUGEOT’s already impressive track record of success on the Dakar, being the manufacturer’s seventh win from eight participations! Here’s a quick reminder of everything PEUGEOT has achieved on the Dakar :
1987 : Victory for Vatanen/Giroux (205 T16 Grand Raid)
1988 : Victory for Kankkunen/Piironen (205 T16 Grand Raid)
1989 : One-two for Vatanen/Berglund and Ickx/Tarin (405 T16 Grand Raid)
1990 : One-two-three for Vatanen/Berglund (405 T16 Grand Raid), Waldegard/Fenouil (405 T16 Grand Raid), Ambrosino/Baumgartner (205 T16 Grand Raid)
2016 : Victory for Peterhansel/Cottret (2008DKR)
2017 : One-two-three for Peterhansel/Cottret, Loeb/Elena and Despres/Castera (3008DKR)
2018 : Victory for Sainz/Cruz (3008DKR Maxi).