Sébastien Loeb gets his first taste of Pikes Peak (w/VIDEO)

With a little under three weeks to go, Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak driver Sébastien Loeb gained his first taste of the Colorado mountain last weekend.

The Race Director invited drivers to take extra care, since water from melting roadside snow had frozen overnight, but despite the unpredictable conditions Loeb enjoyed the experience – “I feel very confident with the car,” confirmed Loeb.

“That’s a reassuring start, if only because of the speeds we get up to here. We are already getting close to the limit in many places. All we need to do now is make some detail changes and we will be ready for the Big Day!”

SEE ALSO: Pikes Peak Preview: Sébastien Loeb’s Mont Ventoux experience (w/VIDEO).

It’s the team’s first week of practice, which continues on Friday (14th June, at 5:30am – 8:30am local time) and then on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th.

Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak Colorado Practice G11 999x568 Sébastien Loeb gets his first taste of Pikes Peak (w/VIDEO)

  • Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak Colorado Practice G5 999x665 Sébastien Loeb gets his first taste of Pikes Peak (w/VIDEO)
  • Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak Colorado Practice G9 999x665 Sébastien Loeb gets his first taste of Pikes Peak (w/VIDEO)

The first step was to put the engine through its paces on a test bench in Colorado Springs to see how it performed at altitude. That was followed by a shakedown run with the car at the town’s nearby ‘Speedway’, signing off changes that have been made since the car’s final test run at Mont Ventoux in France.

Meanwhile, Loeb took time to familiarise himself with the hill climb’s 156 turns, assisted by his WRC co-driver, Daniel Elena.

SEE ALSO: Showdown at Colorado Springs: The 2013 Pikes Peak Unlimited contenders.

The nine-time world rally champion then familiarised himself with nine of its climbs, to associate each corner with his precise mental ‘pace note’ of the course. Once ready, it was time to give the 208 T16 Pikes Peak its first taste of the famous hill climb, with Saturday’s run devoted to the first part of the course, and Sunday’s to the higher section.

Peugeot Sport’s Director Bruno Famin confirmed they’d made hardly any changes to the car’s set-up (after the first practice run), which is hardly surprising given that they set the fastest times of the day on each run. That said, the other (more experienced) competitors are still familiarising themselves with their own new cars, so the competition is bound to increase during next weekend’s final practice.

Loeb set a time of 3:29.24 for the lower half of the course and 3:42.10 for the upper section. This compares with 3:55.03 and 4:26.98 for Rhys Millen who was experiencing traction difficulties in the cold conditions. These testing times do not directly correspond to the full course length on race day, as the full race day course will be longer than both sections combined.

Rhys Millen Hyundai PM580T practice G1 999x665 Sébastien Loeb gets his first taste of Pikes Peak (w/VIDEO)Defending champion and current record holder Rhys Millen is getting up to speed in his bespoke Hyundai prototype.

Famin was happy with the progress made, “Our ‘beast’ seems to suit Sébastien… the 208 T16 Pikes Peak is a well-sorted car and our busy programme in the past four months seems to have taken us in the right direction. We will now need to continue in the same vein.”

So far so good, but there are (at least) eight very strong competitors working hard to deny the Frenchman his rookie success.

  • Chris Southam

    Was really looking forward to watching that video this morning but the content has been blocked by Red Bull (of all people!).

    • http://www.skiddmark.com Steve Davies

      Chris, try it again or if that doesn’t work then click on the header and watch it directly on YouTube. I’ve just watched it again without any problems – it’s one of the best Red Bull previews of Loeb’s Pikes Peak preparation, so is well worth watching..

      • Julian Alonso Forcelledo

        Nope, not working for me right now. Not even on Youtube site.

        • http://www.skiddmark.com Steve Davies

          Julian, please try it again and let me know – I think YouTube have now lifted the blocked content sanction..

  • http://www.skiddmark.com Steve Davies

    Sorry guys, I’ve sent in a dispute claim to YouTube, asking them to unblock the video. I have a licence from Red Bull to publish it (they contacted ‘me’), so hope to have it sorted soon.

  • http://www.skiddmark.com Steve Davies

    Chris, please try it again and let me know if you get to view it as intended

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