As the event’s 4th January start approaches, the commando teams at Peugeot, Red Bull and Total have ticked practically all the boxes of their respective checklists, and the revelation of the Peugeot 2008 DKR’s definitive livery was one of them. After spending seven months robed in black, the French engineers’ creation has now swapped its carbon finish for a far racier look based on a combination of blue, white and red which confirms that its competitive debut is imminent.
"It looks far more aggressive like this," observes Cyril Despres who is unaccustomed to such stylish colour schemes on such a big surface area of bodywork. Meanwhile, Stéphane Peterhansel was swift to note the practical side of the design for him and his co-driver: "The fact that the part around the cockpit has been finished in white is an excellent way to protect us from the heat. I’ve competed in a car with a black roof and I can tell you that it makes a big difference."
The thousands of kilometres the Peugeot 2008 DKR has covered in Morocco in recent months have boosted the morale of all those involved in this bold project. "The results of our test programme show that our technical concept is well founded," notes Peugeot Sport Director Bruno Famin. "That said, this car is at a very early stage of its development, so it is important to remain cautious. Although we have big ambitions for this adventure, we are still tackling it with a great deal of humility. By deciding to kick off our cross-country rally programme with the toughest event imaginable, we will no doubt come across unforeseen obstacles and problems. It is consequently important to take things one step at a time. For our first attempt, our main objective is to get as many cars as possible as far as we possibly can."
Carlos Sainz, whose development skills are widely acclaimed, and who has driven every type of car, is fully behind the Peugeot 2008 DKR’s technical concept: "The team has come up with a unique, innovative car which promises to be extremely versatile for the different types of terrain we are likely to come across. The concept works well. The test programme has shown that it is a very fast machine, although it is obviously difficult to be 100 percent sure of its reliability at this early stage."
With just 48 days to go until the start of January’s Dakar, the team faces a busy final countdown. On 20th November, the service trucks carrying all the necessary equipment and spares will be loaded onto the ship that will take them to Argentina. After that, the three rally cars will be built in readiness for their journey to South America by airfreight after one final test in Morocco, at the beginning of December. Meanwhile, the crews are due to undergo an intensive mechanical training course in order to prepare them for any emergency work they may need to carry out during the rally’s marathon leg when third-party servicing is prohibited.