9 time World Rally Champion and X-Games Rallycross gold medalist Sebastien Loeb made history last month by demolishing the record for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado. He piloted the purpose built Peugeot 208 T16 whose construction began in January of 2013. Luckily the engineers at Peugeot were able to raid the parts bin from their recently retired 908 diesel hybrid Le Mans race car. The front torsion spring suspension, engine air intake and rear wing are parts directly from the 908. The 3.2 liter, twin turbo, 60 degree V6 was also developed for competition at Le Mans in the Pescarolo-run C60. The engine makes 875 horsepower giving the 875 kg (1929 pounds) car an impressive power to weight ratio. Peugeot considered adapting the diesel hybrid drivetrain from the 908, but there simply wasn’t enough time to make it work. Time was also the main consideration for the decision to go with a tubular steel chassis instead of a modified unibody or carbon tub. Downforce produced by the 208 T16 is on par with a Le Mans prototype car which gives full utilization to the 2014 Le Mans spec Michelin tires and 18×13 wheels.
Loeb and Peugeot’s performance are really going to shake things up for Pikes Peak in years to come. To put things in perspective, Rhys Millen was able to beat his course record from last year by a full 44 seconds and was still 49 seconds behind Sebastien Loeb who posted an 8:13.878. Success breeds success so Peugeot may still unleash the technologies that they didn’t have time for this year. I’m sure they’d love to return to the glory of their back-to-back victories in 1988 and 1989 using what they had learned from the Group-B rally era. There’s some talk of them being the first to break into the 7-minute range next year. Until then, enjoy Red Bull’s on-board footage of this year’s run which was the first ever time posted in the 8-minute range:
Sources: June 2013 issue of Racecar Engineering, Autoblog and Red Bull on YouTube