Peugeot Total returns to action in France

Team Peugeot Total

29.08.2018

They say that there’s no place quite like home. Next week Team PEUGEOT Total, starring Sébastien Loeb, Timmy Hansen and Kevin Hansen, will compete with the Peugeot 208 WRX on Peugeot’s home territory at Loheac in Brittany: round 8 of the FIA World RX Championship from September 1-2. At the oldest and most popular French rallycross venue, where the highest spectator numbers of the season are expected, the Lions are ready to roar again and keen to put in a strong performance.

  • During an amazing year for sport in France, in which the nation even won the FIFA World Cup, nobody is more eager to put in a strong performance on home territory than all the dedicated men and women at Peugeot Sport. The team has plenty of home support from all the local fans at Loheac, but with that support comes the weight of expectation.
  • Since being introduced at the Holjes round in June, the 2018 Peugeot 208 WRX Evo has gone from strength to strength, showing a great potential. Loheac will be only its 3rd event, with the car having benefitted from a number of lessons learned since its introduction. Last time outin Canada, the team placed its 2 new cars on the podium in 2nd and 3rd – so it’s clear that there’s only one way to improve.
  • The Loheac circuit regularly attracts around 75,000 fans – making it one of the most popular motorsport events in France – to a compact venue that is overflowing with atmosphere! The lap record holder (with a time of 36.095s) is currently Sebastien Loeb, who finished runner-up last year. The completely rebuilt track is 1.088 kilometres long, with a lengthy joker lap section, and consists of 33% asphalt combined with 66% gravel. The tighter corners tend to be on asphalt with the fast corners on gravel.
  • Following Canada, Team PEUGEOT Total made some progress in the provisional overall standings and is currently runner-up in the Teams’ Championship with 5 rounds left to go. In the driver rankings, Sebastien Loeb is classified as the leading Peugeot 208 WRX driver in 2nd, but he is tied on 140 points with his team mate Timmy Hansen. Kevin Hansen is currently classified 7th.

QUOTE / UNQUOTE

Kenneth Hansen, Team Peugeot Total Manager
“Loheac is a place that breathes motorsport; there’s a lotof love for rallycross in this area, which is why it is such a popular venue. Of course there’s pressure for Peugeot to do well at home but it’s a positive and motivating pressure. The track itself is interesting: it has a bit of a racing character to it, and it’s quite wide so you can push hard throughout the whole lap. There’s a short start straight and then a 90-degree first corner, so that works well. The joker section is an interesting challenge too: it has a jump and it’s parallel to the main track for a lot of the time. There’s actuallynotalotof difference in lap time and the cars oftencome outside by side, which makes it exciting. We saw in Canada that we’re already very close to the top with our latestevolution 208 WRX: now in France we’re aiming to make that next small step and be on top of the podium.” 

Sébastien Loeb, Team PEUGEOT Total Driver #9
“For a French driver and for Peugeot, the Loheac round is obviously very important, so our objective as always is to go for the victory. We’ll get a test just before the race, at Chateauroux in France, which should be good preparation for Loheac and we’ll use that to make some final adjustments to the set-up, although essentially the car will be in the same specification as Canada. Loheac is a lot of fun to drive but there’s no particular secret to it: you’ve just got to be clean and fast everywhere and above all it’s important to get a very good start. It’s a track that canbe quite demanding on the tyres, soyouneedtolook after them and mostof all avoid gettinga puncture, which is a risk on some of the big kerbs that you have there.”

Timmy Hansen, Team PEUGEOT Total driver #21
“For us, this feels a bit like going to Le Mans: it’s one of the big races of the year! I think that Loheac should suit us quite well: the gravel is very grippy when it’s dry, which is typical of French circuits, so it’s actually very similar to the type of gravel that we have tested on before. The performance of the car is all there: we just need perhaps to focus a little more on the starts, which is so important in rallycross, especially in qualifying where all the cars start in a single line. I’m feeling confident but with a new car you can always have a few surprises – don’t forget this is only our 3rd event – and when it rains in Loheac it can be very slippery. Seb Loeb and myself are tied on points at the momentbutthe competitionis toohigh for us to focus on each other: we’re going tokeep on working as a team, which is one of our big strengths.”

Kevin Hansen, Team PEUGEOT Total driver #71
“It’s amazing to get to the home race for our ‘Lion’, and actually I have already had a good French experience recently as I’ve been driving a Formula 4 single-seater racing car at the Auto Sport Academy in France, and I think I can definitely use some of the lessons I learned from that in Loheac. It’s a fast circuit where you have to be very tidy and clean, so this is what I can carry over. My aim is definitely to be on the podium. I think this is a realistic objective, as our 208 WRX should be well-suited to Loheac. It’s a French car that has been developed in France, so it’s obviously good on this type of circuit. The car that I’m driving has also benefitted from a lot of development and I feel that I’m improving personally all the time as well, so there’s no reason at allwhy we can’t be right up there.”

DID YOU KNOW?
The Loheac circuit was inaugurated in 1976 and is the oldest rallycross venue in France, having hosted the country’s 1st rallycross competition on 5 September in the same year. Since then, it’s hosted the French Rallycross Championship, the European Rallycross Championship and now the World Rallycross Championship – and this year it’s set to be the third-best attended motorsport event in France after the Le Mans 24 Hours and French Grand Prix. Sebastien Loeb made his rallycross debut at Loheac back in 2013 – when it was a European round – and finished 9th in a DS3 entered by Herve Knapick, before coming to the sport full-time 3 years later. Previous Peugeot  winners at Loheac have included star names such as Guy Frequelin and Philippe Wambergue in the legendary PEUGEOT 205T16.

WHAT IS RALLYCROSS?
Rallycross (WRX) is a mixed discipline combining rallying and circuit racing, heldoverashortlap that alternates sections on asphalt with sections on gravel. The very 1st races took place as part of the British Championship at the Lydden Hill circuit in England in 1967. A European Championship was created during the following decades, which led to the launch of the FIA World Rallycross C hampionship in 2014. The short and sharp format of the races attracts a young crowd and is tailor-made for video, social media and television. The objective for the championship is to go fully electric in the future. Watch the episodes of the Peugeot “WRX Racing Test” web series: https://bit.ly/2qN7LgU

RACE & RULES
Each 2-day event begins with a lottery that determines the grid for the 1st of the 4 qualifying heats. Each car takes part in 1 race (lasting 4 laps) of each heat, with 3 to 5 cars starting together in a line. Based on the results from the 4 heats (given in points), the top 12 drivers proceed to the semi-finals. These are 2 races of 6 laps, with 6 cars in each. The top 3 cars from each semi-final move go through to the final, which also takes place over 6 laps. Championship points are awarded after the heats and in both the final and semi-finals. In every race, drivers are required to take the ‘joker lap’ once: an extra section of track that usually adds around 2 to 3 se conds to a lap time.

RALLYCROSS ON TV
Rallycross was watched more than 24 million people on TV last year (17 million of them in Europe) – and the numbers are growing steadily. Not only that, but more than 32 million  minutes  of  rallycross footage was watched on YouTube, which combined with Instagram and Facebook adds up to a digital footprint in excess of 34 million views. The main TV broadcasters include L’Equipe in France, Sport TV in Portugal, CBS in the USA, RTBF in Belgium, SVT in Sweden and RDS in Canada.

DRIVERS' CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS AFTER ROUND #7/12

  1. Johan KRISTOFFERSSON / Volkswagen Polo R - 195 pts
  2. Sébastien LOEB / PEUGEOT 208 WRX - 140 pts
  3. Timmy HANSEN / PEUGEOT 208 WRX - 140 pts
  4. Andreas BAKKERUD / Audi S1 - 139 pts
  5. Petter SOLBERG / Volkswagen Polo R - 139 pts
  6. Mattias EKSTRÖM / Audi S1 - 134 pts
  7. Kevin HANSEN / PEUGEOT 208 WRX - 88 pts
  8. Niclas GRÖNHOLM / Hyundai i20 - 86 pts
  9. Janis BAUMANIS / Ford Fiesta - 64 pts
  10. Timur TIMERZYANOV / Hyundai i20 - 55 pts
  11. Jérome GROSSET-JANIN / Renault Mégane RS - 47 pts
  12. Robin LARSSON / Ford Fiesta - 37 pts
  13. Guerlain CHICHERIT / Renault Mégane RS - 36 pts
  14. Kevin ERIKSSON / Ford Fiesta - 20 pts
  15. Tommy RUSTAD / Volkswagen Polo - 13 pts

TEAMS' CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS AFTER ROUND #7/12

  1. PSRX Volkswagen Sweden - 334 pts
  2. Team PEUGEOT Total - 280 pts
  3. EKS Audi Sport - 273 pts
  4. GRX Taneco - 141pts
  5. GC Kompetition - 83 pts
  6. Olsbergs MSE - 57 pts