Successful debuts for 208 T16 & Breen

Successful debuts for 208 T16 & BreenFrom Peugeot Press [ 01/07/2013 ].
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The delicate weather conditions which marked this year's Ypres Rally allowed the Peugeot 208 T16 to make a positive first impression in the hands of Kris Meeke. For his first attempt at Belgium's round of the European Rally Championship (ERC), Craig Breen delivered a strong performance, too, to claim third place in his Peugeot 207 S2000.

An enthusiastic reception for the Peugeot 208 T16

The Peugeot 208 T16, which was making its first public appearance this weekend in Ypres, was given an enthusiastic reception on the Belgian stages which attracted a big spectator turnout despite the poor weather.

The roads were made particularly challenging by heavy rain, but that didn't prevent Kris Meeke and Chris Patterson from providing a demonstration of the agile handling and performance potential of Peugeot's latest challenger which has been designed to comply with the FIA's latest R5 regulations.

"We have reached the halfway point in the car's development programme and this rally allowed us to validate a certain number of solutions, " said Alexis Avril, who is in charge of Peugeot Sport's customer competition department. "Following our test on abrasive asphalt in France's Var region, this weekend's competition on the stages near Ypres served as a full-scale test in conditions where grip wasn't always easy to find. The run was especially useful because of the rainy weather, because we hadn't previously been able to test the car in the wet."

"We are very pleased with the car's competitiveness. This event enabled us to compare the 208 T16 with the current-generation S2000s, as well as with the competition. We were also able to adjust our car's set-up to the conditions, which is always a good pointer. It was only our second test on asphalt and the 208T16 seems to respond well to set-up changes. That allowed us to end up with an efficient, competitive package, despite the little grip that was available."

The development programme will now continue on gravel and asphalt over the coming months, until the car's homologation.

Craig Breen completes debut Ypres Rally in third place

Competing in Ypres for the first time is never easy, especially in wet weather. Even so, Craig Breen produced a surefooted performance on the sixth round of the European Rally Championship. From the outset, the only representative of the Peugeot Rally Academy managed to match the pace of the highly experienced Freddy Loix who was on home soil. At the same time, Craig Breen and Paul Nagle were able to pull gradually clear of the Peugeot 207 S2000 of Bryan Bouffier before a driveshaft issue saw the Irishman lose valuable ground on SS5.

Breen/Nagle completed the first day's action in fourth place but responded by posting a series of fastest stage times on Saturday morning which allowed them to recover third place and close the gap to Bryan Bouffier. The battle for second place between the two Peugeot207 S2000 drivers continued until the very last stage when Breen slid off. The Peugeot Rally Academy driver was consequently forced to settle for third place, but his fourth podium finish of the year consolidates his second place in the provisional European rally Championship standings.

Xavier Baugnet steered his Peugeot208 R2 to victory in the two-wheel drive class on the Ypres Rally which also counted towards the Belgian national championship. The result allowed him to close the gap in the provisional standings to third-placed Cédric de Cecco whostill leads the Peugeot Rally Trophy Belgium.

What the drivers said:

Kris MEEKE: "It's nice to have been the first person to drive the Peugeot 208 T16 on a rally. It has made a big step forward since I last tested it on gravel. It is competitive and reliable, and I was able to maintain the same pace from the start to the finish of every stage I did. Towards the end, when the conditions were perfect, I had fun pushing the car to its limits. For it to be as efficient as it was even though we are still only halfway through its development programme is highly encouraging. I hope we will be able to take part in more events because this weekend enabled us to collect a vast amount of useful data."

Craig BREEN: "We were a little fortunate on the last stage. I lost control of the car at slow speed. Once we got going again, I pushed hard until I saw the flags which indicated that the stage had been neutralised. The final part was run as a road section. Third place is a good result, especially as we were able to match Freddy Loix's pace on Saturday when the conditions really weren't good. I learnt a great deal this weekend and I believe I progressed on this rally."

Next round, with the complete Peugeot Rally Academy squad (Craig Breen, Jeremi Ancian and Stephane Lefebvre): Poland (September 13-15, 2013)