No punches have been pulled with the 208 T16 Pikes Peak, which will compete in the event’s premier ‘Unlimited’ class, a category that allows plenty of freedom on the technical front. The engineers have naturally taken on-board the salient features of this legendary competition, the USA’s oldest after the Indy 500 and a truly unique cocktail because of its incredibly twisty, high-altitude course.
That said, Peugeot can count on the considerable experience it gained of the so-called ‘Race to the Clouds’ with the 405 T16 which claimed back-to-back victories in 1988 and 1989, in the hands of Ari Vatanen and Robby Unser respectively. Sébastien Loeb counts among those who were struck by the film ‘Climb Dance’ which was produced to commemorate Vatanen’s resounding success.
Now that he has taken a step back from world class rallying after dominating the World Rally Championship for almost a decade, Sébastien Loeb is keen to turn his attention to new challenges. In addition to his involvement in this year’s GT World Series, he snapped up the opportunity to contest the celebrated Pikes Peak Hill Climb and discover its 156 corners which he will tackle without the help of a co-driver. The Frenchman will also have to cope with a strength-sapping altitude difference of some 1,500 metres in less than 20 kilometres, with the finish line situated at an altitude of 4,301 metres!
The car which Sébastien Loeb will drive in Colorado - the Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak - boasts a highly distinctive design: "Its proportions are very different to those of the production 208," observes Michael Trouvé who is in charge of silhouette design at Peugeot’s Styling Centre. "This difference gives it an almost beast-like appearance. Peugeot Sport provided us with a number of technical constraints, such as the width, body height, location of the wheels and engine, and we worked to this brief to produce an extreme take on the 208."
The work of Michael Trouvé and his colleague Attila Bocsi has resulted in a car with a unique stance. "The cars which represent the brand in motorsport have always tended to feature sculpted forms which combine style and aerodynamic efficiency. The 208 T16 Pikes Peak is no exception, and it incorporates all the distinctive hallmarks of the 208 which itself marks a new generation of Peugeot design," says Michael. "I am very proud to have played a part in this adventure, especially since we didn’t have much time to work on the car’s design, because the green light was only given in November and the project wasn’t signed-off until February."
The car’s aerodynamics naturally haven’t been sacrificed in the name of style. Based just a few kilometres from Peugeot Sport, the team of stylists was able follow the different build phases: "The rear wing, which is that of the Le Mans 24 Hours-winning 908, and the splitter are two features of the car which give it its beast-like attitude. And I am amazed by the beauty of the parts concealed by the carbon bodywork."
All that remains now is to discover the performance potential of the 206 T16 Pikes Peak and its final livery. Be patient - all will soon be revealed!