Peugeot Sport

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Peugeot Sport

1. History of Peugeot Sport

Peugeot Sport is Peugeot's competition department responsible for its sporting activities. Peugeot Sport was born in 1981 when Jean Boillot, CEO of the Sochaux manufacturer, asked Frenchman Jean Todt, co-driver of Guy Fréquelin in the world rally championship with Talbot, to found the Peugeot Talbot Sport sports department.

In 1984, a page was turned and Peugeot Sport formalized its commitment to the track. The Peugeot 205 Turbo 16, or 205 T16, is entrusted to Ari Vatanen, who scored three victories in the last three races of the WRC season (1000 Lakes, Sanremo, RAC). A performance which confirms a return to the forefront of motorsport for Peugeot. The following year, Timo Salonen crushed the competition at the wheel of the 205 and even allowed Peugeot Sport to win the Manufacturers' title ahead of Audi. What comes next is even better for Peugeot Sport. 1986 saw Juha Kankkunen and Peugeot Sport claim the Drivers' and Manufacturers' titles in the World Rally Championship.

Timo Salonen at the 1986 Lombardy Rally © Claude Saulnier / DPPI

These results, these successes and these first places in rallying come to an end because FISA decides, for safety reasons, to put an end to Group B. This decision could have stopped the rise of Peugeot Sport. But Jean Todt has no shortage of projects for his young, already winning program. After the WRC, it’s time for the rally raid for Peugeot Sport! Upgraded to meet the requirements of the Dakar, the 205 T16 Rally Raid Paris-Dakar version, in the hands of Ari Vatanen, won the legendary race in 1987.

New victories followed in 1988 (with Kankkunen), 1989 and 1990. From 1989, Peugeot Sport showed its new products. It is now with the 405 T16 that Peugeot Sport displays its performance and confirms its rise in motorsport competitions. Ari Vatanen is the winner of the two editions of the Dakar in 1989 and 1990. The Sochaux cars show both their performance and their quality. Jacky Ickx (2nd in 1989), Bjorn Waldegard and Alain Ambrosino (2nd and 3rd in 1990) put Peugeot Sport in the places of honor.

Ari Vatanen at the Paris-Dakar 1988 / © CLAUDE SAULNIER / DPPI

Alongside its involvement in rally raids, Peugeot Sport is tackling another motor racing monument: Pikes Peak. At the wheel of the 405 T16, Ari Vatanen beat the record for the climb in 1988, the American Robby Unser succeeded to his record, without improving the Finn's mark, at the wheel of the Sochaux car.

The Peugeot Sport team has a string of successes in competitions and has something to rub their hands with. But new adventures await the drivers at Le Lion, a challenge of its own magnitude: participating in the world sports car championship and obtaining the supreme title of winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Since 1988, Jean Todt has had in his mind the idea of ​​launching into Endurance, despite a long list of competitors. Peugeot Sport is developing its prototype, the 905, which debuts in Montreal (Canada). In its spirit and design, the 905 embodies the values ​​advocated by Peugeot Sport: audacity, performance and style. Designed in collaboration with prestigious partners and brands, including Dassault Aviation, the 905 needs a certain mileage to show its advantage in Endurance competitions.

The Peugeot 905, first prototype from the Lion brand / © GILLES LEVENT / DPPI

In 1991, Peugeot Sport won the 430 kilometers of Suzuka but the reliability of the 905 forced it into a double early retirement during the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This disappointing content and this lack of performance are put into perspective by Jean Todt, who announced that he wanted to race the “6 Hours of Le Mans. » The following year was that of confirmation for Peugeot Sport. The 905 flies over the championship and takes all the pole positions. The return to Le Mans is a success. Yannick Dalmas, Derek Warwick and Mark Blundell won and gave Peugeot Sport its first success at Le Mans. The trio Mauro Baldi, Philippe Alliot and Jean-Pierre Jabouille finished 3rd. Peugeot Sport makes the break and becomes world champion.

The team pushed the limits of performance and wrote the most beautiful lines in the Endurance races in 1993. Despite the disappearance of the championship, it was with an ever more sophisticated version of its 905 that Peugeot Sport crushed the competition at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. 1993 and monopolizes the three places on the podium. Christophe Bouchut, Eric Hélary and Geoff Brabham are ahead of the trios Yannick Dalmas – Thierry Boutsen – Teo Fabi and Mauro Baldi – Philippe Alliot – Jean-Pierre Jabouille.

Total success for Peugeot at the 24 1993 Hours of Le Mans © DPPI

After this total triumph, Peugeot Sport is at a turning point in its history. Jean Todt leaves the team for the prestigious position of Director of Scuderia Ferrari. At the same time, Peugeot Sport is preparing to follow it in the most famous automobile competitions in the world: the F1 Grands Prix. Peugeot Sport became McLaren's engine supplier (1994), but the collaboration was cut short following disagreements with Woking, an inefficient unit at the top of the black list of the least reliable engines. Peugeot Sport persists and joins forces with Jordan (1995-1997) and finds colors. Mileage helps Sochaux products progress and the Irish team scores 5 podiums in 3 seasons.

Peugeot distinguished itself in the WRC in the early 2000s with Marcus Grönholm © DPPI

Peugeot Sport then equips the Prost Grand Prix, but the firm is torn between its services with the quadruple world champion's team and its return to rallying with the Peugeot 206 WRC program. The return to the WRC is crowned with victories. Peugeot Sport made the break, winning three manufacturers' titles between 2000 and 2002, and Marcus Grönholm won the Drivers' titles in 2000 and 2002. The successor to the 206 WRC, the 307 WRC, introduced in 2004, did not experience the same destiny and Peugeot Sport left the world of rallying, for the moment…

Peugeot Sport is quickly changing its mind. In June 2005, Peugeot announced its intention to return to Le Mans and Endurance. Two years later, the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP made its competitive debut at Endurance. She took pole position but had to settle for 2nd place. In 2009, Peugeot had its revenge and signed a resounding double with Alex Wurz – Marc Gené – Davod Brabham ahead of the trio Franck Montagny – Sébastien Bourdais – Stéphane Sarrazin. The harder the fall. The 4 Peugeot 908s entered in 2010 were forced to retire. The following year, it failed around fifteen seconds behind the Audi R18. In 2012, Peugeot Sport announced its withdrawal from Endurance competitions.

The Peugeot 908 triumphs at the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2009 © FREDERIC LE FLOC H / DPPI

Program announcements continue. In 2013, Sébastien Loeb broke the Pikes Peak ascent record with the 208 T16 Pikes Peak. In 2015, Peugeot Sport announced its return to rally raid competitions and asserted its rights to victory with the Peugeot 2008 DKR. The buggy scores a double at the China Silk Road Rally with Stéphane Peterhansel and Cyril Despres. Peterhansel (2016 and 2017, with the 3008 DKR) and Carlos Sainz (2018) add to the list of Peugeot Sport successes. Integrated into the team, Sébastien Loeb, despite a few stage victories, saw a victory in the Dakar elude him.

Carlos Sainz at the wheel of the 3008 DKR during the 2018 Paris-Dakar / © Frederic Le Floc'h / DPPI

At the same time, Peugeot Sport entered rallycross and won the title of manufacturers' world champion in 2015, with the Peugeot 208 WRX. In 2018, Peugeot Sport became a factory team and hired Sébastien Loeb to defend its colors. Unfortunately, the team is dominated by Johan Kristoffersson and Peugeot Sport stops there in rallycross.

The Peugeot 9X8 will have the mission of making the Lion win again at Le Mans / © Paulo Maria / DPPI

In November 2019, Peugeot Sport announced a resounding return to Endurance competitions. The Sochaux firm, whose 905 and 908 products are still remembered, benefits from the freedom of design rights authorized by the Hypercar regulations. The Peugeot 9X8 is distinguished by the absence of a rear spoiler. On July 10, 2022, the Peugeot 9X8 makes its WEC debut at the 6 Hours of Monza.

2. The official Peugeot Sport drivers

Following the withdrawal of Kevin Magnussen, who returned to Formula 1, Peugeot Sport is entering six drivers in its World Endurance Championship (WEC) program. These six drivers are: Paul di Resta, the former Scottish Formula 1 driver and DTM champion. Loïc Duval, winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and WEC world champion in 2013. Jean-Eric Vergne, ex-French F1 driver with Toro Rosso and double Formula E champion (2018, 2019). Mikkel Jensen, LM P3 ELMS champion in 2019. Gustavo Menezes, winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and LM P2 world champion in 2016. Nico Mueller, ex-Audi factory driver and winner of the 24 Hours of Nürburgring.

The drivers who represent Peugeot in Hypercar / © Peugeot Sport



3. Personalities of the Peugeot Sport team

If there were to be a notable personality in the history of Peugeot Sport, it would surely be Jean Todt. The former co-driver of Guy Fréquelin, with whom he became vice-world champion of WRC rallies with Talbot, put his work as a methodical, rigorous and calculating manager and accomplished strategist to take the Peugeot Talbot Sport entity towards the heights of motorsport. And this in all motorsport competitions in which the Lion brand is involved. Peugeot's varied successes and its longevity of excellence were such that Jean Todt caught the eye of the most legendary sports team, Scuderia Ferrari, to entrust him with the reins of its destiny. Maranello thus opened the first pages of its golden book of F1 domination at the turn of the XNUMXst century. A hegemony that would not have been possible without Jean Todt.

Jean Todt was one of the great architects of Peugeot's successes in the 1980s-1990s / © PHOTO: DPPI

4. The titles won by the Peugeot Sport team

  • WRC Manufacturers title: 1985, 1986, 2000, 2001 and 2002

  • WRC Drivers title: 1985, 1986, 2000 and 2002

  • Dakar Rally victories: 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 2016, 2017, 2018

  • Victories at Pikes Peak: 1988, 1989, 2013

  • WRX Manufacturers title: 2015

  • Victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans: 1992, 1993, 2009