Written by Karl Peskett
Human nature dictates that we all have a measure of self-esteem. So, if we’re truly honest, we all take pride in thinking we’re a good driver. We may have even attended the odd track day.
For a minute, imagine racing with cabin temperatures of 60°C and suiting up in full leathers. Replace the tarmac with sand, the ripple strips with shrubs. Forget learning turns one and four; you’ll need a map, travelling across dunes for upwards of five hundred kilometres in a day.
It doesn’t matter any more if you think you’re good. Thoughts don’t have time to float to the surface when you are a participant in possibly the world’s most challenging and gruelling race – the Dakar.
Peugeot knows this better than most. After a successful run with its 2008 DKR earlier this year, it has now unveiled its successor, the Peugeot 3008 DKR.
While its previous machine was certainly capable, Peugeot has gone through it with a fine-toothed comb, identifying any weaknesses and improving upon them, as well as taking advantage of the leaps and bounds in electronic processing speeds that only come with time.
It’s still a rear-wheel-drive machine (not having all-wheel-drive hasn’t been an impediment), but the engineers have had to deal with a new rule which has reduced the engine restrictor from 39mm to 38mm this year. As a result, a lot of homework has been carried out on the twin-turbo, 3.0l V6 diesel, creating more power lower in the rev range for enhanced driveability.
Using the 2008 DKR’s suspension as its basis, the new car has built on the absorption by altering the geometry and installing new dampers. An improved air-conditioning system, too, will allow the drivers to be more refreshed inside the car, which aids concentration given that they will be spending potentially 12 hours in the car each day of the race.
Covering nearly 10,000km across varied terrain and altitudes, the Dakar is without a doubt one of the hardest races for any driver to tackle, but Peugeot’s team reckons it has the right stuff. One thing’s for sure, if they can make a car that can withstand Dakar-style abuse, the company’s road-going vehicles will certainly benefit from such a test programme.