After an initial shakedown test in December, development work on the Peugeot 208 Type R5 continued last week with a four-day programme attended by Irish driver Craig Breen. Breen was signed up by the French marque for its Rally Academy, and is joined by Jeremi Ancian and Stephane Lefebvre, and the Irishman has the promise to bring new awards and accolades to Peugeot Sport.
The 208 Type R5 returned to a gravel test stage near Riboux, in the south of France, for a four-day workout. The official Peugeot Rally Academy driver Craig Breen took over from Bryan Bouffier for last week’s session at the wheel of Peugeot Sport’s latest hot hatch.
Craig Breen: “It’s great to have tested the 208 Type R5. It handles really well and I believe its two chief strengths are its brakes and gearbox. The conditions were difficult at times yet its braking performance was exceptional and I felt very confident. As for the gearbox, it is very easy to use and gear shifts were impecccable! I like the engine, too. It’s got incredible torque. You could feel the car improve run after run, so it’s been quite an exciting week!”
Alexis Avril, Technical Manager: “December’s test was essentially a shakedown, but this week we started to get some real development work done and that has provided us with an indication of the areas where we need to take our work next. Despite the changeable weather, we covered a high number of kilometres and we have already started to explore different technical solutions.”
The Peugeot Rally Academy was created along the lines of its successful racing driver development programme, the RCZ GT Academy. Ancian and Lefebvre, the top two finishers in the 2012 Volant 207 contest in France, will take part on six and four rounds of the European Rally Championship (ERC) respectively with Ancian piloting a 207 S2000 and Lefebvre at the wheel of a 208 R2.
The third recruit, who has signed as a Peugeot Sport factory driver, is Craig Breen. The young Irishman and current S2000 World Champion will enter eight ERC rounds in a 207 S2000 in tandem with helping to develop Peugeot’s all-new 208 Type R5.
Bruno Famin, the Peugeot Sport Team Principal, said: “With the Peugeot Rally Academy, we are taking another step forward in terms of the support we provide to the winners of our promotional formulas. The 208 Rally Cup [in France] has all the required elements to be a great sporting success, with the 208 R2 which is already a leading car, a varied calendar and the unrivalled concept of offering a ‘drive’ to the winner. I am confident that Craig will confirm all the good things that have been said about him in this year’s ERC, and I can’t wait to see how our winners will fare alongside him. There is no pressure on them to achieve results. It’s all about accumulating experience for these young drivers; we’re not fighting for the championship.”