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Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak Challanger By by Brian Foley

Always ready for a fresh challenge, record nine-times World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb and Peugeot Sport will contest the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on June 30. The Frenchman will tackle the world's highest hill climb at the wheel of the 208 T16 Pikes Peak which was specially engineered and built by Peugeot Sport. The event marks Peugeot's return to the classic American event after memorable victories with the 405 T16 which claimed back-to-back victories in 1988 and 1989 in the hands of Ari Vatanen and Robby Unser. The award-winning film 'Climb Dance' was produced to commemorate Vatanen's resounding success.

Now that he has taken a step back from world class rallying after dominating the World Rally Championship for almost a decade, Sébastien Loeb is keen to turn his attention to new challenges. In addition to his involvement in this year's GT World Series, he snapped up the opportunity to contest the celebrated Pikes Peak Hill Climb and discover its 156 corners, which he will tackle without the help of a co-driver. The Frenchman will also have to cope with a strength-sapping altitude difference of some 1,500 metres in less than 20 kilometres, with the finish line situated at an altitude of 4,301 metres.

Although its exterior styling resembles that of the production model, the racy Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak was tailor engineered and designed to tackle the incredibly twisty, high-altitude course which is the USA's oldest race after the Indy 500.

Michael Trouvé, Peugeot Style Centre said, "The 208 T16 Pikes Peak proportions are very different to those of the production 208. Peugeot Sport provided us with a number of technical constraints, such as the width, body height, location of the wheels and engine, and we worked to this brief to produce an extreme take on the 208. The rear wing, which is that of the Le Mans 24 Hours-winning 908, and the splitter are two features of the car which give it a beast-like attitude".

The discovery of gold in the middle of the Colorado Mountains in July 1858 sparked off the arrival in the Pikes Peak region of some 100,000 fortune-hunters looking to fulfill their dreams. The mountain has since recovered its former tranquillity and is today a designated National Historic Landmark. The peace of Pikes Peak is broken once a year by an invasion of more than 150 drivers who get behind the wheel of a host of sometimes implausible vehicles to take on the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The 'Race to the Clouds' is simple and involves each competitor taking turns to drive the 20km course that twists its way along the mountain's flanks to reach its summit at 4,301 metres in the shortest time possible.

The start line is located at an altitude of 2,800 metres, which means that competitors face an altitude difference of 1,500 metres. Meanwhile, the lack of oxygen is a challenge not only for the engines, which can lose up to 30 per cent of their power, but also for the drivers who must remain fully focused on the 156 cliff-lined corners. It is an exercise which calls for dexterity and meticulous preparation, as well as a little luck. Over the years, the dirt trail has been gradually paved and the 2012 event was the first to take place entirely on tarmac, when it took competitors half the time required for the first ascension in 1916. The entry is broken down into more than 20 classes covering vehicles as varied as cars, bikes, sidecars and trucks. The premier category is the 'Unlimited' class in which Sébastien Loeb's Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak will compete. A number of official test sessions are organised to enable competitors to familiarise themselves with the course, but at one section at a time. The first opportunity they will get to tackle the full route in one go is when they do it for real on the day.

Pikes Peak: the legend in brief
156 corners
Course length: 19.9 kilometres long (now entirely paved)
Start line altitude: 2,865 metres
Finish line altitude: 4,301 metres
Course record: 9m46.164s (Rhys Millen, Hyundai Genesis Coupé)
Inaugural event: 1916. This year is the 91st edition.
European competitors took part in the event for the first time in 1984.
Peugeot won the event in 1988 and 1989, with Ari Vatanen and Robby Unser respectively.
Jean-Louis Mourey's film 'Climb Dance' released in 1989 tells the story of Ari Vatanen's victory in 1988

2013 programme:
June 25 (5:30am-8:30am): official practice
June 26 (5:30am9:00am): official practice
June 27 (5:30am9:00am): official practice
June 28 5:30am9:00am): official practice
June 30 (8:00am): race
Further information: