After 14 days, 13 stages and 5 700 miles (or 9112 kilometres), Team Peugeot Total reached the finish of its first Dakar with two of its three Peugeot 2008 DKR entries. Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret finished 11th while Cyril Despres and Gilles Picard were 34th. Both crews faced up to all the challenges that Dakar could offer, providing the entire team with valuable experience that will enable it to come back stronger in 2016.
Twenty-five years have passed since Peugeot’s last participation on the Dakar. While the continent and the team may have changed, the race remains an extraordinary adventure and a massive challenge for man and machine. The 2015 Dakar was characterised by all the different types of weather and terrain possible, including a stage that started on the spectacular Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia for the first time. Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret, Cyril Despres/Gilles Picard and Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz, three experienced and reliable crews with 17 wins between them, fronted up to the challenge with determination. Now thoughts already turn towards 2016, with a final look back at 2015 to congratulate Nasser Al-Attiyah and Matthieu Beaumel from the Qatar Rally Team on their victory.
Bruno Famin, Peugeot Sport director: "The conclusions we draw from our first Dakar are, of course, mixed ones. Speaking as pure competitors, and bearing in mind the ultimate objective we have set ourselves, we cannot be satisfied with the raw final result. But we are also very aware of the scale of the task ahead, so the principal objective of our first participation was just to gain experience. With two of our three Peugeot 2008 DKR entries on the finish ramp at Buenos Aires and no major technical problems, we can say that this goal has been reached. We’ve learnt a huge amount in every area: technical, sporting and logistical. That’s fundamental for the next steps in the project. In order to get there, our drivers and co-drivers, as well as the whole technical team, did an exceptional job. When it came to our preparation for this event, we focused exclusively on reliability. All the hard work has paid off. In terms of performance, while the Peugeot 2008 DKR has shown a certain potential by fighting for stage wins on two or three occasions, it’s not yet at the level required to be a contender for overall victory. There is no lack of ideas when it comes to future development and a lot of work is already underway. We’re now going to define our road map for the future by incorporating everything we learned from our experience in 2015. The 2016 Dakar has already begun for us – with the first debrief on Sunday!"
Stéphane Peterhansel: "It’s important to know how to sacrifice one year in order to prepare properly for the next one. At the start of the rally we weren’t even sure that we would get past the second day and now we’re here at the finish without any major technical problems. I also made some mistakes; we should have been better placed overall. The Peugeot 2008 DKR has very big potential but what I also saw over the last 15 days was an entire team, mechanics, and engineers who were truly motivated to give us the best possible chance – and that is great news for the future. We’ve got a long list of tasks and enormous scope for improvement. I’m sure we’ll be fighting for victory next year."
Cyril Despres: "This has been a whole new world for me. It’s like going back in time a few years to when I was making my debut on bikes. And it’s also quite hard to find yourself not fighting for the top places anymore when you’ve been used to doing so in the past. This was a high-speed learning curve for me, featuring pretty much all the conditions you could imagine and a few more that you couldn’t! I think I’ve got more stories to tell about my one Dakar in a car than I have about my last seven years on a bike… And that is something that actually I hadn’t reckoned on. When I left Buenos Aires, I had just one thing in mind: getting to the end without making any mistakes. In the end we made a few, but we still got here."
Carlos Sainz: "Of course I’m disappointed that my rally ended the way it did. The mechanics and the entire team didn’t spare any efforts to get the cars to the start of the rally and keep them going until the very end. An incredible amount of work has gone on over the last few months, and the experience gained will be very useful from here on. I’m very pleased and confident with the way that Team Peugeot Total managed the race. They did everything they had to do."
Overall Car Ranking Rally Dakar 2015:
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Qatar Rally Team - 40h32m25s
2. Giniel de Villiers (RSA)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (DEU) Toyota All Speed - +00:35:34
3. Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Mini - +01:32:01
4. Erik van Loon (NLD)/Wouter Roesegar (NLD) Mini - +03:01:52
5. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) - +03:12:41
6. Christian Lavieille (FRA)/Pascal Maimon (FRA) Toyota - +03:15:58
7. Bernhard Ten Brinke (NLD)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) Toyota - +03:42:02
8. Carlos Sousa (PRT)/Paulo Fiuza (PRT) Mitsubishi - +03:44:59
9. Aidyn Rakhimbayev (KAZ)/Anton Nikolaev (RUS) Mini - +04:08:44
10. Ronan Chabot (FRA)/Gilles Pillot (FRA) SMG - +04:42:36
11. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/J-P Cottret (FRA) Team Peugeot Total - +05:19:15
34. Cyril Despres (FRA)/Gilles Picard (FRA) Team Peugeot Total - +15:38:07