With nine World Rally Championship titles under his belt, coming close to winning at Le Mans and the World Touring Car Championship, and not to mention smashing the Pikes Peak hill climb record by a minute and a half, Sébastien Loeb is one of the most successful drivers in motorsports history. But there is one event that he has yet to leave his mark on, and that is the Dakar Rally.
Set to take place on the 3rd to 16th of January 2016, the 13-day cross-country event will take place over parts of Argentina and Bolivia. It is considered by many to be one of the toughest rally event in the world, spearing through some of the driest and most hostile parts of the world, and has gained notoriety in claiming the lives of some of its participants.
The 41-year old Loeb will be joining the Peugeot-Total team line-up alongside rally veteran and two-time WRC champion Carlos Sainz, 11-time Dakar winner Stéphane Peterhansel, and five-time motorcycle winner Cyril Despres.
Unlike rally events in the WRC, Loeb says that taking on Dakar is a whole different kettle of fish. “It will be very long, over two weeks, and you need to have the endurance to look after the driver and the car.”
“In WRC I have been used to getting around obstacles, but with this car you can just drive straight over them and it takes some time to have the confidence to believe it. I’ve also been used to having very detailed pace notes, but in cross-country rallies you have to find the road for yourself and improvise,” he added.
Besides that the Peugeot 2008 DKR will be the first time Loeb will be driving a diesel car in competition. While Loeb will be piloting the 2015-spec 2008 DKR for Dakar, Sainz will be strapped into the team's new 2008 DKR16 2016-specification.
Both Loeb and Sainz will be teamed up for next month’s Rallye du Maroc on October 3rd, which also serves as a symbolic reunion for the two drivers as they were previously team mates for Loeb’s very first full season of the WRC in 2003.