Nine-time World Rally Champion Loeb was flown in by helicopter amid tight security to the La Ferte-Vidame track in north-west France for his first taste of the 875bhp, four-wheel-drive T16.
After his first few kilometres, Loeb declared: “The 208 T16 Pikes Peak is a rocket! It’s so powerful. The first time you drive it, each gear change practically stuns you. The shifts are really brutal and it takes a little time to anticipate the sudden jarring. You get used to it, but it was quite disorienting to begin with.”
I’ve never driven anything that accelerates so fast.
Bear in mind that with a 1:1 ratio power to weight ratio of 1:1 (it also weighs just 875kgs), the T16 is capable of accelerating from 0-100kph in just 1.8 seconds – that is faster than a Formula 1 car.
“I’ve never driven anything that accelerates so fast,” added Loeb who tested for Red Bull Racing in 2008 as well as Peugeot’s 908 HDi Le Mans 24 Hours prototype. He continued: “In the lower gears a Formula One car doesn’t deliver maximum power. With the Peugeot, though, it’s bang, bang, bang as you move up the box from standstill.
“Thanks to its four-wheel drive transmission and turbocharged engine, its pull-away performance is phenomenal. You find yourself in sixth gear at 240kph in no time at all.”
Loeb and Peugeot Sport have less than two months now to fine-tune the T16’s behaviour prior to the challenge of Pikes Peak on 30 June. The event’s nickname ‘Race to the Clouds’ is fitting as its 20km course, full of fast corners and tight hairpins, climbs to an eventual 4,031 metres. It has also become considerably faster in recent years since being given an all-asphalt surface and Loeb is treating it with the utmost respect.
I’m taking things one step at a time.
He said: “This track isn’t very wide and there aren’t any run-offs, so I’m taking things one step at a time. I don’t know what the car’s limits are yet but it was important to do this run on a circuit today. Now we have a better idea of where we stand and a better overview of the car’s potential. After that, the challenge will be to try to feel totally at one with the car on the Pikes Peak hill climb itself. That will take some work…”
Loeb is clearly eager for Pikes Peak to hurry up, adding: “I really can’t wait to get to drive the 208 T16 Pikes Peak in Colorado!”