Wednesday 18 July 2012

Ulster Rally (August 17-18, 2012): The next step for the 208 R2

Ulster Rally (August 17-18, 2012): The next step for the 208 R2

image Development work on the Peugeot 208 R2 is continuing with a view to its scheduled launch in November. The next major step in the new car’s programme will be an appearance on the Ulster Rally. After serving as ‘zero car’ on the Tour de Corse, the 208 R2 will make its second ‘competitive’ outing in the hands of Craig Breen/Paul Nagle.

Getting kilometres under its belt

Ahead of its trip to Ireland, the latest Peugeot Sport-designed and developed hot hatch will have covered 4.142 miles in eight separate test sessions, plus its run at last May’s Tour de Corse. A balanced proportion of that distance has been on gravel (44 percent), while the remaining 56 percent has been on asphalt, of course. Before the 208 R2 goes on sale internationally, it is expected that it will have completed at least 5.000 miles as Peugeot Sport strives to achieve the best possible trade-off between reliability, performance and driving enjoyment for the newcomer’s price. In addition to the different test sessions that await it, a number of other rallies also feature on the 208 R2’s development calendar.  image

‘Zero car’ for the Ulster Rally

For its second public appearance, the 208 R2 will run the same specification that was seen in Corsica. This time, however, Peugeot Sport has recruited the services of Craig Breen, the driver who has so far covered the furthest distance in the 208. The youngster has profited from his extensive experience of the R2 class to clock up no fewer than 1.045 miles at its wheel. Following the recent tragic death of his co-driver Gareth Roberts, he will be joined for his return to the stages by Paul Nagle, Kris Meeke’s usual navigator. The 208 R2 will run as ‘zero car’. The event will be an opportunity to showcase the new car’s potential to an audience of Irish and British rally teams and drivers, with whom the R2 class is particularly popular. From a technical viewpoint, Peugeot Sport will use the rally to validate the car’s set-up on the low-grip, bumpy asphalt that is frequently encountered in the sport. The 208 R2’s international promotion programme will then continue with visits to four other major European rallies, including the Sanremo (Italy) and the Rallye du Var (France). Meanwhile, the production schedule for the 208 road car has been adjusted as a function of demand, which means that the 208 R2 will now be homologated in October, by which time the minimum production-run of 2,500 1.6-litre normally-aspirated 208s will have been reached.  image

The 208 R2 – Technical description

The 208 R2 is powered by a 1,600cc, 185-horsepower normally-aspirated engine mated to a five-speed sequential gearbox with a manual shift mounted on the steering column (like the 207 S2000). In addition to this unique feature for a car in this class, the gearbox benefits from air cooling. The 208 R2 is equipped with three-way adjustable dampers with hydraulic bump stops, plus specific wishbones which permit longer suspension travel. To simplify the ordering and management of parts and to facilitate the conversion from a gravel to an asphalt specification (and vice-versa), Peugeot Sport has opted for a single calliper as standard, re-machined discs. Thanks to the floating calliper arrangement, the conversion from gravel to asphalt spec only requires the calliper mounting spacer to be changed. The 208 R2 runs on Michelin tyres and tips the scales at 1,030kg, in compliance with the regulations.  image

Three questions to Craig Breen

What made you decide to carry on rallying?Gareth and I put in a great deal of hard work this year to build up a good relationship with Peugeot Sport. The two of us played a part in the development of the 208 R2 and we got on well with the team. The plan was to do the Ulster Rally with Peugeot Sport and it would be such a waste of all the work Gareth and I put in if I had decided to quit now. It’s for him that I want to continue competing and to succeed. It won’t be easy without him but I’m sure he’ll be guiding me onwards.

What has your approach been to the Ulster Rally?I’ve got mixed feelings. On the one hand, it’s quite exciting to be driving for a committed manufacturer for the first time, even if it is as ‘zero car’. It’s a big step in my career and it was one of our objectives with Gareth, so it promises to be difficult without him. It will also be a big step for me competing with my new co-driver, Paul Nagle. He’s very experienced and talented and I think he will make a big contribution to the team. Before Ulster, Paul and I will contest Rally Finland in the SWRC class, in my own car. That will be a great way to see how we work together.

What is your opinion of the 208 R2?It’s got a great deal in its favour, and I can compare with all the other R2 cars. It’s very powerful and its handling is very stable. It is easy to drive and it doesn’t take you long to feel comfortable with it. I’ve had a chance to drive it on asphalt and on the loose surfaces : it’s quick on both and I believe it has the potential to be very successful. Its road holding in mud and in heavy rain is just incredible. The last time I drove it in testing, we covered a fair distance without any problems whatsoever. I’m impressed by the suspension control as much as I am by the agile dynamic chassis performance.

Rally schedule (provisional)
Friday 17th August
13:00 Start Day 1 Ulster/Rally NI
22:00 End Day 1 Ulster/Rally NI
Saturday 18th August06:45 Start Day 2 Ulster/Rally NI
17:40 Finish Ulster/Rally NI

SalesThe gravel and asphalt versions of the 208 R2 will both be available in kit form (specific 208 R2 parts) for a price of €37.500 (net) / circa £29,500. This price includes a fully-built engine. It will also be possible to acquire the 208 R2 in fully built form (gravel or asphalt version) for €57.500 (net) / circa £45,125. Two kits will be available to convert the asphalt version of the car to gravel trim, or the gravel version of the car to asphalt trim.
Delivery: November 2012, via the Peugeot Sport Racing Shop.
Contact: Laurent Guyot, Manager, Peugeot Sport Racing Shop:

Development calendar
August 17-18: Ulster Rally (asphalt), United Kingdom
October-November: Gravel and asphalt rallies in Europe (including Sanremo and Var)
October: Homologation
October 12-14: San Remo (asphalt)
November: Delivery
November 23-25: Rallye du Var (asphalt), France
Peugeot Sport.

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