RALLY SUPERSTAR Sébastien Loeb will make his Dakar debut with Peugeot in 2016.
The nine-time World Rally Champion will join Carlos Sainz, Stephane Peterhansel and Cyril Despres to form a ‘Dream Team’ for the toughest race in the world.
Loeb tested one of Peugeot’s 2008 DKR Dakar challengers in Morocco earlier this year, and admitted Dakar has been on his radar for some time.
“I only discovered motorsports when I was 18 and I started competing in my first rallies,” he said.
“Since then I have been interested in all types of different motorsports and Dakar is one of them.
“I think it’s a great challenge to go and compete there and drive in the desert.
“The Dakar is completely different from the racing I’m doing at the moment.
“It will be very long, over two weeks, and you need to have the endurance to look after the driver and the car.
“It’s another approach to racing but I’ll discover that in January.’
The 13-day Dakar rally will run through Argentina and Bolivia, with Chile withdrawing its involvement in the event due to predicted extreme El Nino weather events.
Loeb will make his competitive rally raid debut at the Rally du Maroc in a 2015-spec 2008 DKR.
The Frenchman will be joined by regular rally co-driver Daniel Elena for both events.
“When I tried the Peugeot 2008 DKR out in June, it was immediately very impressive for me – and of course it has changed a lot since then,” Loeb said.
“What struck me most of all is how the Dakar car was a completely new experience: in the WRC I have been used to going round obstacles but with this car you can just drive straight over them, and it takes some time to have the confidence to believe it!
“I’ve also been used to having very detailed pace notes: in Cross Country, you have to find the road for yourself and improvise your route.
“And this is actually the first time I have driven any type of diesel car in competition too.
“So there is a lot for me to learn, but I am eager to find out more.”