WORLD RX 2018:PEUGEOT HEADS IN HOUSE TO GO ALL OUT FOR GLORY
Saturday 31st of March 2018
Team: Team Peugeot Total
Car: Peugeot 208
Drivers: Sebastien Loeb, Timmy Hansen, Kevin Hansen (Individual)
2017 Teams’ Championship: 2nd
Familiar though the car and driver line-up may be, there are still plenty of unknowns for rivals to fear from the rebranded and reorganised Team Peugeot Total as the manufacturer takes its efforts in house to go all out for World RX glory in 2018.
Having completed its objectives with a third and final win on the Dakar Rally in January, Peugeot will now concentrate its focus and sizeable resources on World RX this year by infiltrating the existing Team mPeugeot Hansen outfit with a full factory effort.
As such, while Sebastien Loeb, Timmy Hansen and Kevin Hansen will still drive a 208 Supercar this year, it is otherwise all change behind the scenes.
Indeed, VW and Audi have good reason to feel threatened by the heightened presence of Peugeot in the paddock based on the manufacturer’s reputation for not only succeeding in motorsport but doing so comprehensively.
One only has to look at its domination in the aforementioned Dakar Rally, its multiple wins in the gruelling Le Mans 24 Hours, it’s record-breaking Pikes Peak attempt and its titles in the World Rally Championship for the products of a trusted winning formula. This is even before you consider the ongoing input of Hansen Racing, which has proven it is more than capable of winning on its own terms too.
So, while World RX represents an entirely different challenge for a manufacturer better used to endurance and reliability rather than short, sharp, physical motorsport action, it has some impressive pedigree to call upon regardless. This is no more evidenced than its lead driver Loeb.
While the 2017 World RX wasn’t quite the breakout season for Loeb many expected after a race-winning turn the previous season, the legendary nine-time World Rally Champion’s remains a title favourite heading into 2018. With evolutions expected over the course of the season as Peugeot gets a grasp on its latest challenge, Loeb believes the 208 has the package to take the fight to VW and Audi.
“I am happy to be back here and the car is working well,” Loeb said. “I think we can challenge this year. We won’t have all of our evolutions at the beginning of the season so we will have our first car and then we will have some improvements coming over the season. We will be in the fight.”
While the iconic Hansen name is missing from the team moniker and a French flag now flies above the door, Sweden’s top rallycross dynasty still retains a significant influence on the team’s fortunes with Timmy Hansen and Kevin Hansen re-signing, while 14-time rallycross champion Kenneth Hansen and his wife Susan Hansen remain actively involved at a prominent level.
For Timmy Hansen, he says Peugeot’s respect for his family’s efforts is demonstrated by the way it has retained his younger brother Kevin Hansen on the strength of his impressive results in 2017.
“We agreed from all sides that we wanted to keep going together but because now Peugeot is an official and factory team, taking Kevin on was a big thing for him. I think it shows he drove so well that he deserved his place.
“I am honoured to be in this car. I have driven a Peugeot for many years and our relationship is great and if I want to be successful anywhere, I want it to be with Peugeot. I am super happy to continue.”
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