Rally legend Sebastien Loeb will race a heavily-revised version of Team Peugeot-Hansen’s 208 WRX Supercar in the World Rallycross Championship this season, alongside teammate Timmy Hansen.
The Swedish-French team revealed its new 208 Supercar on Thursday ahead of the first round of the Championship in Barcelona, Spain this weekend.
For the fourth year in a row, the team has built a pair of new cars for this season, stating that every aspect of the car has been re-evaluated.
Major changes have been made to the 208’s geometry and suspension, now running at the maximum width permitted by the regulations and to the 2.0-litre engine, which now includes a one-piece sump.
Aerodynamic changes have also taken place, most notably to the rear quarter panels and rear bumper, which are more square in construction than the previous version, more akin to EKS’s Audi’s and the Hoonigan Racing Division’s M-Sport-built Ford Focus RS RX, but with an increase in aerodynamic characteristics into the rear bumper.
The team has tested the new car at Mettet in Belgium and Lydden Hill in the UK, among over European venues.
“The team has put in a tremendous effort over the off-season and following our most recent test at Lydden Hill, I feel confident that the car has taken a step forward in practically every area, from the engine and chassis to the gearing and damping,” said Loeb, who competed in his first full-time World RX campaign last season and won the tenth round in Latvia.
“Essentially, the new car is a more competitive proposition all-round, and it should be more adaptable and quicker than before on lower-grip circuits.
“Barcelona this weekend won’t unduly challenge us in that respect, but it will nonetheless be a fascinating weekend as it will mark our first direct comparison with our rivals, all of whom have similarly stepped it up a notch over the winter.”
Alongside Loeb and Timmy Hansen in the new-for 2017 cars, reigning FIA European Rallycross Champion Kevin Hansen will compete in the full season in a revised version of the 2016 car.
Team Principal Kenneth Hansen thinks the team has three of the best drivers on the World RX grid. “We are in the fortunate position of having three of the championship’s best drivers in our team and as long as we provide them with a car, that inspires confidence,” he said. “We know they are capable of producing extraordinary performances.
“Nonetheless, it is impossible to predict the World Rallycross pecking order ahead of the first round of the season, because our rivals will certainly not have stood still. Our approach will be to take each race weekend at a time, with the ultimate objective of fighting for both titles.”