While the wraps were taken off the Peugeot 2008 DKR – the French company’s 2015 Dakar racer and its first entry to the gruelling rally raid since 1990 – at the Beijing Auto Show in April, the full technical details of this stunning machine have not been released to the public until now.
The headline stat that’s most surprising is the number of wheels driven: while most cars built to take part in the Dakar Rally are four-wheel drive, the 2008 DKR is aiming to take the chequered flag next year with just two driven wheels (almost certainly at the rear).
This move might not be as harebrained as you might imagine – aside from the obvious weight advantage, the two-wheel drive setup also allows for bigger wheels and tyres, a shorter front overhang and longer 460 mm suspension travel instead of the usual 250 mm. The larger wheels additionally enables the fitment of remote tyre pressure adjustment which can save precious time when dealing with sand dunes.
Elsewhere, the 2008 DKR features a mid-mounted 3.0 litre twin-turbo diesel V6 that delivers 340 hp and a stout 800 Nm, mated to a six-speed sequential manual gearbox – if the car does win, it will be the first overall victory for a diesel-powered two-wheel drive car. The body is made from carbon fibre panels over a tubular steel chassis and measures just 4,099 mm long, making the car incredibly compact next to its rivals.
Naturally, the company is trying to tie the racer in with the production 2008, with Peugeot Sport director Bruno Famin saying, “Given that the production 2008 is a two-wheel drive crossover equipped with Grip Control technology, which enables it to go just about anywhere, it is only right that the 2008 DKR derivative should similarly take on the challenges of the Dakar with just two-wheel drive.”
Of course, barring the name, badges and basic silhouette, the two cars share nothing with each other, and are mechanically as far apart from each other as you can imagine.
Peugeot will be aiming to repeat the sort of success it saw in the late-1980s, where it won the event four times consecutively from 1987 to 1990. Strapping into the 2008 DKR next year are 2010 winner and double WRC champion Carlos Sainz, five-time motorcycle winner Cyril Despres and 11-time winner Stéphane Peterhansel.