Peugeot has captured the top three spots in the car category of this year’s Dakar Rally with the 3008 DKR, a new racer designed specifically for the event. The win is the French automaker’s sixth in what’s widely considered as one of the most challenging races in the world.
French pilot Stephane Peterhansel finished the race in first place with a roughly five-minute lead. WRC champion Sebastien Loeb crossed the finish line second, and Cyril Depres finished in third place, about 33 minutes behind Peterhansel. A fourth 3008 DKR was withdrawn from the race after Carlos Sainz crashed and rolled several times during the fourth stage. The Spanish driver later explained he was trying to make up for lost time.
Peterhansel, Loeb, Depres, and Sainz are all highly experienced pilots. Peterhansel, 51, has raced motorcycles and cars, and he earned the nickname Mr. Dakar by winning the event a record 13 times. Peugeot knew it had a strong roster, so it decided not to issue team orders. Instead, the four pilots were simply instructed to battle it out among themselves and win.
“It was never easy because Sebastien is a proven champion and extremely fast, and he has plenty of experience of managing from in front, so it was never straightforward for us, as can be seen by the small gap that separated us at the finish,” said Peterhansel in a statement.
While the Dakar is named after the capital of Senegal, it hasn’t been held in Africa since 2007 due to safety concerns. This year, competitors lined up in Asuncion, Paraguay, and embarked on a 5,400-mile, two week-long trek that took them across Bolivia and Argentina. The race ended in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina. The weather was worse than usual, and the ninth stage was canceled due to a massive landslide caused by thunderstorms.