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SÉBASTIEN LOEB AND THE 208 T16 PIKES PEAK: AIMING FOR THE COLORADO CLOUDS!
Always ready to rise to a fresh challenge, the nine-time world rally champion
Sébastien Loeb and Peugeot Sport will contest the Pikes Peak International Hill
Climb on June 30. The Frenchman will tackle the world’s highest hill climb – which
culminates at an altitude of 4,301 metres – at the wheel of the 208 T16 Pikes Peak
which was specially engineered and built by Peugeot Sport. The event marks the
French team’s return to the classic American event after its memorable victories
there in 1988 and 1989.
The announcement of this ambitious project three weeks ago caused something of a
buzz in motorsport circles, and the time has now come for the next phase of this
exciting adventure: the unveiling of the machine with which Sébastien Loeb will target
victory in Colorado. Although its exterior styling resembles that of the production
model, the Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak was tailor engineered and designed to meet
the specific needs of the famous American event.
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
The Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak breaks cover!
Aggressive, racy, ferocious even… These are some of the adjectives that describe the
awesome Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak which is poised to take up the challenge of the
world’s highest motorsport event on June 30!
The car which Sébastien Loeb will drive in Colorado 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 208 T16 Pikes Peak and
its final livery. Be patient, all will soon be revealed!
PIKES PEAK: A LEGENDARY RACE
The discovery of a gold seam in the middle of the Colorado Mountains in July 1858
sparked off the arrival in the Pikes Peak region of some 100,000 fortune-hunters
looking to fulfil their dreams. Numerous disillusionments later, the mountain has since
recovered its former tranquillity and is today a designated National Historic Landmark.
Yet the peace of Pikes Peak is broken once a year by an invasion every bit as boisterous
as the infamous Gold Rush.
When a trail to the summit was completed in 1916, a new generation of adventurers
flocked to the site looking for a different type of glory, and today more than 150 drivers
get behind the wheel in a host of sometimes implausible vehicles to take on the Pikes
Peak International Hill Climb, the world’s highest competition of its sort and America’s
oldest motorsport fixture apart from the Indy 500. The principle behind the so-called
‘Race to the Clouds’ is simple and involves each competitor taking turns to drive the
20km course that twists its way along the mountain’s flanks to reach its summit at
4,301 metres in the shortest time possible!
The start line is located at an altitude of 2,800 metres, which means that competitors
face an altitude difference of some 1,500 metres. Meanwhile, the lack of oxygen is a
challenge not only for the engines – which can lose up to 30 per cent of their power –
but also for the drivers who must remained fully focused on the 156 cliff-lined corners…
It is an exercise which calls for dexterity and meticulous preparation, as well as a little
Over the years, the dirt trail has been gradually paved and the 2012 event was the first
to take place entirely on asphalt. Unsurprisingly, last year’s competition produced a
new outright record for the course when Rhys Millen (Hyundai Genesis Coupé)
produced a 9m 46.164s, half the time required for the first ascension in 1916!
The entry is broken down into more than 20 classes covering vehicles as varied as cars,
bikes, sidecars and trucks. The premier category is the ‘Unlimited’ class in which
Sébastien Loeb’s Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak will compete. A number of official test
sessions are organised to enable competitors to familiarise themselves with the course,
but only one section at a time. The only opportunity they get to tackle the route in one
go is when they do it for real on the day!