Peugeot is doing something very interesting at Pikes Peak. That's surprising because I find them to be the most boring car maker in Europe. Well, maybe Loeb can help.
If you think about it, Peugeot doing Pikes Peak is rather strange. Yes, they know quite a lot about building turbocharged rally monsters, but if you look at the French auto industry today, Peugeot seems to be lost in the middle.
If you want weird and wonderful, you get a Citroën. If you are after speed, Renault can help you. What was Peugeot's response to that? The new 208 GTI which is not bad but far from being a true successor to the legendary 205 GTI. Still, they somehow decided to build a 875 horsepower silhouette racer and hire the world's best (rally) driver to throw it around the Rockies, even if they don't sell cars to the US.
The Peugeot Sport team seems to be satisfied with the car so far, while Sebastien Loeb was just all over the place in the last few days:
Apparently, they didn't let him sleep too much, as "his alarm clock has gone off at 3:15am every day recently, in order to be up in the service area at around 4am, ready for action."
The Frenchman (and the PR team) had this to say:
I don’t really like early mornings – who does – but this is certainly a pretty extreme way to wake up!
It’s not like a race with a warm-up lap, or a rally with a road section, before you start here. You just sit in the car and bang! You’re off at full speed straight away! Full speed in the 208 T16 Pikes Peak is something in the region of 240kph, thanks to an 875-horsepower engine and a power to weight ratio of one horsepower per kilogram. A car like this is actually never what you would call easy to drive, but that’s what makes it so thrilling.
In the end though, we discovered some really useful things. I never had a chance to drive the whole mountain before – just sections of it – so the work we did on Friday, when we could go from the very bottom all the way to the top, was a really good taste of what was to come. And we had four potential tyre compounds to choose from, so we evaluated them all and selected the compound that we thought would suit the conditions best.
While he gets five days off before the show starts, the team keeps working on the car to make it as reliable as possible. They know that if it doesn't break down, Loeb is someone who can deliver the results.
Would you like to see a French victory in Colorado? I certainly wouldn't mind...