The Peugeot 2008 DKR came, it improved, and it conquered. And now it steps aside to make room for an official successor, the equally angry and intimidating 3008 DKR. Team Peugeot Total and Red Bull have revealed the 2017 Dakar car just ahead of the production 3008's official world debut in Paris later this month. Compared to the 2008 DKR, the 2016 Dakar winner, the 3008 has more torque at lower revs, a revised suspension and a new black-and-white wardrobe. And since it hasn't won Dakar yet, it also has reason to have a chip on its shoulder.
Peugeot returned to Dakar in 2015 after a 25-year absence, having gone out on a high note with a series of wins between 1987 and 1990. It was clear from the beginning that Peugeot wasn't reentering the fray to lose, but things didn't work out at its comeback debut. After the unsuccessful 2015 Dakar run, though, it went back to the shop, reworked the 2008 DKR into an even more finely tuned off-road rally machine, and took home victory at the 2016 event under the stewardship of Stéphane Peterhansel. The 2008 DKR also took home the win at the Silk Way Rally last month, this time with Cyril Despres at the wheel.
When you're winning, you don't usually want to make sweeping changes, but you don't want to rest on your laurels and let the competition close the gap, either. Based on what we've seen of the 3008 DKR, that's exactly the line Peugeot Sport has been walking, focusing on evolutionary refinements, not major overhauls.
That means that 2WD carries over as the cornerstone of the 3008 DKR, and it's no wonder, the 2WD strategy proved so successful this year that others are following suit. With that in mind, Peugeot Sport is able to take advantage of some of the same Dakar rule advantages that helped the 2008 DKR along, such as lower minimum weight, bigger tires and more suspension travel.
In seeking to improve upon its Dakar-winning design, Peugeot trialed new suspension geometry and damper settings and an air conditioning system on the 2008 DKR, readying those elements for the Dakar 3008 DKR. Air conditioning may sound like an unnecessary luxury in a race car, but Peugeot believes it will help team members perform at a higher level while doing 12-hour stints inside a cockpit that regularly spikes over 140° F (60° C).
Toyota benefits this year from Dakar restrictor regulations, but Peugeot has to drop down from a 39 mm to a 38 mm unit, losing about 20 hp along the way. The team has reworked the 3.0-liter V6 twin-turbo diesel engine to create more torque at lower revs, however, and believes the retuned engine will make the car easier to drive and possibly faster on the rough Dakar course.
Peugeot has also pored over all the ins and outs of its design and fortified it for mechanical strength, electrical integrity and overall reliability.
"The new 3008 symbolizes the next step," says team director Bruno Famin. "Our goal with this car was to take the weaker points of the existing car and make them stronger while capitalizing on all the existing strengths to improve them still further. There are also some new regulations, which we obviously needed to comply with."
Beyond its new Red Bull-accented black-and-white livery, the 3008 DKR looks much like its predecessor in overall shape and demeanor. But its 3008 roots do shine through in the new grille, headlamps, fenders, and rear-end design with vertical bar taillights.
"It keeps the distinctive design language of the road car but transports it into a rally context," explains Peugeot senior exterior designer Sebastien Criquet. "And that's the dream job for any designer – when you create a car, you always have a competition version at the back of your mind."
Team Peugeot Total will return racers Stéphane Peterhansel, Carlos Sainz, Sébastien Loeb and Cyril Despres as it aims for its sixth Dakar win next January. Sainz will first put the car through its paces at Morocco's rally in October.
Take a closer look at the 3008 DKR in the official launch video below: