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GP Week : Issue 169
RALLY >>> FEATURE Jari-Matti on home ground in 2011 1990 they transferred their accumulated technology to long distance 'rally-raid' events, where they dominated the sport. After four years their technology was transferred to their PSA partners Citroen and Peugeot embarked on three seasons of World Sportscar racing, twice winning Le Mans. At this time the company was building up a rally customer competition support programme and this work took them to winning the FIA’s two-litre championship, in 1995. Under the guidance of the company’s competition director Jean Todt and the leadership of a former team driver Jean-Pierre Nicolas, a network of support for privateer use was established which led to Peugeot cars being arguably the most popular car in rally sport. It was the beginning of a remarkable quarter century tradition. Meanwhile (1994-2000) Peugeot went in a new direction, to Formula 1. This was too highly specialised a sport to tackle entirely on their own, so they concentrated on being engine suppliers. In 1994 they worked with McLaren, for 1995-1997 with Jordan, from 1998 to 2000 with Prost. But in 2000 Peugeot returned to the motor sport discipline which many consider to be their spiritual home, rallying, and succeeding better than ever! However much the memories of Peugeot’s success with the Group B cars (two world manufacturers’ titles and 16 individual world rally wins) will forever be treasured, their most successful rally period was still to come, with the arrival of the 206WRC. This car brought Peugeot three world manufacturers’ titles and 24 wins! These successes came at what was widely considered the golden age of WRC competition, against the biggest range of full-time manufacturer involvement rallysport had ever known. The successful four-year career of the 206WRC was followed by the two year career of a different concept of rally car, the 307WRC, less suited for WRC competition, but still a three-times rally winner. Peugeot’s full time WRC team was disbanded at the end of 2005 as the company embarked on a new endeavour, a return to sports car racing with diesel powered cars. This project came to a spectacular conclusion when the 908 HDi FAP cars finished 1-2 at Le Mans. Meanwhile on the privateer rallying front, new development was ongoing in rallying – the Super 1600 formula. In 2001 Peugeot joined a wide range of manufacturers developing these cars, designed to provide successful sport for younger drivers and defuse the escalating costs of the former 2-litre ‘Formula 2’ category. Then the FIA finalised plans for a four- wheel-drive version, aimed at becoming the top sporting formula beneath World Rally Cars. At the 2006 Geneva Motor Show Peugeot showed their 207 Super 2000 project car and over the next six years the remarkable commercial and sporting success of this car became evident, with over 100 being built. At the same time as Peugeot launched their S2000 car, the FIA published their rules for the future Group R, which came into force in the 2008 season, and this provided Peugeot with new products to plan and new horizons to conquer. Peugeot entered the new realm with the 207RC turbo car, a R3T model intended as a low-level one-make series car, and as the new 208 production car came on to the market this was used as the basis for a ‘R2 rules’ car, which is due to be homologated imminently. And, the icing on the cake, the basis for the R5 car which they have now launched, ready to be homologated in time for competition in 2013, the first car designed for the FIA’s latest regulations to break cover. Ninety-nine years after Indianapolis, Peugeot continues to lead the way ... Peugeot history in the making: left, Makinen/ Todt, Safari Rally 1979, Peugeot 504 Coupe. Above: Gronholm/Rautiainen, 2001 Rally Finland, Peugeot 206 WRC; Right: Meeke/Nagle, 2009 IRC, Peugeot 207 S2000. Previous page: Kankkunen/ Piironen, 1986 Rally NZ, Peugeot 205T16 36 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: