We finally got our first teaser image of the Peugeot 208 T16 that Sebastien Loeb will drive at the Pikes Peak hillclimb this year. On June 30, the nine-time WRC champion will take part in the 'Unlimited' class. For this year, the car has a profile that’s similar to the roadgoing 208. It is a very extreme model that makes use of the minimal limits of the Unlimited class.
Michael Trouve, who oversees silhouette design at Peugeot's Styling Centre, said that because of the bodywork modifications, the 208 takes on a look that’s almost the same as that of a beast. Trove said that working with some technical limitations, they created an “extreme” version of the 208. Trove supposedly had this sentiment after considering the 208 T16.
Among the features that it believes are the key to winning at the event are its big front and rear wings and wildly flared wheel arches to fit in the bigger wheels and brakes. The Pikes Peak for 2013 marks only the second time that the event has taken place on a totally paved track, after it was completed last year.
This led to the setting of a new course record of 9min 46sec to be established by the winner Rhys Millen in a Hyundai Genesis, a target that Loeb hopes to surpass this year over the 156 corners and 1500m altitude rise of the Pikes Peak course.
It can be recalled that in 1988 and 1989, Peugeot won the hillclimb with a 405 T16. The film 'Climb Dance' had featured Ari Vatenen's win in 1988. In the early part of the 1980s, Peugeot’s 205 T16 appeared at Pikes Peak.
Following the discovery of a gold seam in the Colorado Mountains in July 1858, around 100,000 people rushed to the Pikes Peak region to have a good taste of fortune. Nowadays, Pikes Peak is back to its peaceful days and is now a designated National Historic Landmark. However, Pikes Peak still experiences a sudden rush of people once a year, thereby turning the tranquil region into a loud area. This once-a-year event is no other than the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, which is considered as the highest competition of its kind in the world and the oldest motorsport fixture – save the Indy 500 – in the United States.
Ever since a trail to the very summit of the Pikes Peak was completed in 1916, a new group of people started climbing to the top with their cars looking for a taste of glory. This quest for glory continues to the present times, and for this year, more than 150 drivers take part in the latest edition of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, which is also called as “Race to the Clouds.” Of course, they won’t race against each side by side, as that would be too dangerous. Each participating driver would take turns to climb the 20-km course to determine which of them could reach the summit – with an altitude of 4,301 meters -- the fastest.
Since the starting point is already at 2,800 meters and the finish line is at 4,301 meters, drivers only have to conquer around 1,500 of altitude. This isn’t an easy challenge, nonetheless, especially that going up that high means having to brave the lack of oxygen for both the driver and the engine. Lack of oxygen could result to lack of focus, which is much needed if a driver has to challenge 156 cliff-lined corners. Moreover, lack of oxygen could make engines lose up to 30 percent of their power.
Through the years, the dirt trail to the summit has been gradually paved, thereby resulting to improved times to the top. Finally in 2012, drivers don’t have to worry over unpaved dirt, since the trail to the summit is now fully paved with asphalt. This allowed Rhys Millen and his Hyundai Genesis Coupé to post a new record to the summit of the Pikes Peak, completing the 20-km course in just nine minutes and 46.164 seconds, which is basically half the time it took the first climbers to reach the peak in 1916.