Nine-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb is set to take on the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with the returning Peugeot team’s 208 T16.
Turns out Sebastien Loeb couldn’t retire his immensely successful rally gloves just yet. The nine-time World Rally Champion will contest a part-WRC campaign in 2013 (and has got that off to a good start with a win in Monte Carlo and second place on Rally Sweden), but will this year focus his attention on Sebastien Loeb Racing and the team’s Blancpain Endurance Series commitments.
Confirmation that the Frenchman would make his debut on the famous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb nevertheless caused something of a stir. Not only because the sight on Loeb on the climb will be a moment of motorsport infamy in years to come, but also because the event marks the return of Peugeot to Pikes Peak.
Loeb, a Citroen man since his WRC debut in 1999 (two outings in a Toyota Corolla WRC in 2000 aside), will pilot a Peugeot 208 T16 at Pikes Peak. In doing so, he emulates the great Ari Vatanen, fellow WRC Champion in 1981 but also a former record holder on Pikes Peak aboard the legendary 405 T16 (which, by the way, had FIA President Jean Todt in the ‘passenger seat’).
As well as victory at Pikes Peak, the 405 also achieved fame and semi-fortune with three victories on the Dakar rally from 1988-90, with that man Ari Vatanen once again behind the wheel.
The 405 also played a starring role in Climb Dance, a 1989 film directed by Jean Louis Mourey, which celebrates Vatanen’s record breaking run the year before. Given his penchant for tarmac rallies (only once in 10 showings was Loeb beaten on the predominantly tarmac Rally Germany), the WRC legend may well hope for the same treatment.
– Shots courtesy of Eric Fabre