Peugeot has unveiled its latest 208 WRX challenger ahead of the 2018 season — the first to be developed in-house by the car maker.
Having marked its swansong Dakar Rally appearance with a third consecutive victory at the start of the year, Peugeot is turning its attentions to its World RX effort under the revised Team Peugeot Total banner, following several seasons competing as Team Peugeot Hansen.
Despite the new name, the Hansen rallycross dynasty remains integral to Peugeot’s 2018 World RX title challenge, with nine-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb joined once more by seasoned race winner Timmy Hansen and his younger brother Kevin Hansen in an unchanged three-driver line-up.
World RX managing director for IMG Paul Bellamy commented: “We are delighted to see Team Peugeot Total not only continue its commitment to the FIA World RX Championship but do so with the full support of its factory team for the first time.
“Peugeot has been synonymous with World RX since we took the championship global in 2014 and the decision to bring its expert WRC and Dakar Rally winning team on board is both testament to its title aspirations and the fantastic platform World RX provides for manufacturers.”
Team Peugeot Total will bring a significantly revised 208 WRX to the grid in 2018, with development focusing on making the 560hp Supercar lighter, more powerful and easier to drive for Loeb and Timmy Hansen. Kevin Hansen will drive an evolution of the 2017-specification 208 WRX as a Team Peugeot Hansen entry.
Bruno Famin, Peugeot Sport director, said: “This marks the start of an exciting year for us, as the FIA World Rallycross Championship will be Peugeot’s key motorsport engagement in a factory capacity, with new rivals and a new environment.
“We are aiming for some wins this season, then something more in the seasons beyond. We decided to participate in world rallycross because we firmly believe in the future of this sport: the sporting format, which is short and intense, is exciting, the audience, younger than in other categories, is still growing, and furthermore we also believe in the electric future of the championship.”
Loeb said: “My expectations are high for this year. Peugeot coming in as a factory team was exactly what was needed to take things up a level and enable us to fight for the championship. In the past we were close, but we were just missing a little extra. Now Peugeot’s official engagement can bring us that. We won’t have all the evolutions at the start of the year and that will make it difficult to fight for the championship from the beginning, but you never know: it all depends on how quickly we can develop.”
Team Peugeot Total will first be seen in action at the World RX Championship season-opener in Barcelona from April 14-15.