Peugeot to Leave Dakar After 2018
One of the series' most decorated competitors will make its exit next year.
Peugeot, a long-time staple in the famed Dakar race, has announced that it will be ending its dedicated program to the off-road trial after next year's competition. The news has long been expected after back-to-back victories in 2016 and 2017, and the French marque made the decision official on Tuesday. This move comes as a result of continued success and somewhat-unwelcomed regulation changes that will downgrade the performance of the company's rear-drive vehicles in the future.
The manufacturer will retain star drivers Sebastien Loeb, Carlos Sainz Sr., Cyril Despres, and Dakar legend Stephane Peterhansel after the program's end. Peterhansel has won the event six times on a motorcycle and seven times by way of car, solidifying his as well as Peugeot's spot in the sport's history.
"The problem is that the more you win, the more you want to keep on doing it," Peterhansel explained. "This year it will be even more special, with the 40th edition and my 29th participation. Who knows if it's going to be my last one or not, that is still to be seen.
Peugeot Sport director Bruno Famin said, "As this will be the last Dakar for Peugeot, we would like to finish our amazing campaign on a high note. But as I always say, you can't count on anything in advance. The most difficult thing, after winning, is to do it again."
Peugeot's Dakar experience harkens all the way back to the late '80s in the day of rally star, Ari Vatanen. The famed 205 T16 and 405 T16 models still stand today as some of the most coveted vehicles to come out of the motor rally, and its recent string of dominance ended MINI's reign at the top through the first part of the decade.
Peterhansel closed on discussing his plans for next year's finale, adding that the team's improvements to suspension and reliability could bode well for 2018.
"The goal for all of us at is to make Peugeot win again and end the programme on a high."