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As they began their defence of the FIA World Rallycross Championship crown in the 2016 curtain-raiser at Montalegre in Portugal this weekend, the PEUGEOT 208 WRX Supercars endured a frustrating weekend. Despite being in the mix throughout, Sébastien Loeb was unfortunately unable to convert his potential into the podium in the final.

– During the first two heat races, competitors had to contend with a heavy downpour, which prevented the PEUGEOT 208 WRX Supercars from fulfilling their evident potential.
– Peugeot was the sole manufacturer to have three identical cars reach the semi-finals, but only Sébastien Loeb succeeded in progressing on to the final.
– On his debut in the FIA World Rallycross Championship, Loeb confirmed his outstanding adaptability. Having proven a consistent force throughout the heat races, he fought for the podium in the final until a transmission problem restricted him to fifth place at the chequered flag.

Bruno Famin, Director of Peugeot Sport
“That was a mixed weekend. The end result clearly did not live up to our expectations, but that does not detract from the fact that we were very much in contention. The competition is extremely close this year, and we need to dig deep to regain the slight edge we had over the opposition over the second half of last season. Even if we have not fallen behind on outright performance, we found ourselves in the middle of the pack at Montalegre. That left us vulnerable to the various incidents that can occur in the races, and there was no shortage of them this weekend!” Podcast

Kenneth Hansen, Team Principal
“Sébastien is certainly an impressive ‘rookie’! I didn’t expect that he would take to rallycross as quickly as he has. I’m impressed by the manner in which he approached the whole weekend. On a more general note, I cannot be completely happy with our result in this first round of the season. We struggled a bit in the slippery conditions, when we found it difficult to adapt the car to adequately suit the drivers. When the track was dry, the PEUGEOT 208 WRX was very competitive, but we evidently have work to do to make sure we are ready to take on all eventualities next time.” Podcast

Sébastien Loeb (PEUGEOT 208 WRX #9), P5
“I’ll say one thing – this discipline certainly isn’t easy! You need to be absolutely on top of your game throughout – in every race. I made a few small mistakes – as did most drivers in the tricky conditions – and one of them proved costly in heat four, but I bounced back from that. I had a good semi-final that enabled me to make it into the final, which was far from a foregone conclusion at the beginning of the weekend. Unfortunately, a transmission issue meant I had to back off just when the podium was within sight. I love the whole rallycross atmosphere; the car is extremely powerful and a lot of fun to drive, and it was fantastic to see so many spectators cheering us all on.” Podcast

Timmy Hansen (PEUGEOT 208 WRX #21)
“Everything that could go wrong this weekend did! We started off on the back foot when the heat races went badly, but even though we weren’t as dominant as last year, our performance was still reasonably good. At the beginning of the semi-final, the track was dirty on the inside where I was, which affected my braking ability. I hit Mattias Ekström, for which I apologised, and that was the end of my weekend. That meant we scored very few championship points in Portugal, which was far from the best way to kick off the new season.”

Davy Jeanney (PEUGEOT 208 WRX #17)
“I’m leaving Montalegre in a positive frame of mind. Our weekend didn’t get off to the best of starts; the car wasn’t entirely to my liking to begin with, which meant I struggled for form. We worked hard to turn things around, though, and that allowed us to successfully qualify for the semi-final. I settled into a strong rhythm and really enjoyed myself, but the race unfortunately didn’t go to plan. Another car got sideways in front of me, which blocked my path and prevented me from attacking for third place and with it a spot in the final.”

Final positions – Round 1 (Portugal – Montalegre)
1. Petter Solberg (Peter Solberg World RX Team, Citroën DS3)
2. Robin Larsson (Robin Larsson, Audi A1)
3. Toomas Heikkinen (EKS, Audi S1)
4. Andreas Bakkerud (Hoonigan Racing Division, Ford Focus RS)
5. Sebastien Loeb (Team Peugeot-Hansen, PEUGEOT 208 WRX)
6. Johan Kristoffersson (Volkswagen RX Sweden, Volkswagen Polo)

FIA World Rallycross Championship standings after 1 round
1. Petter Solberg (Peter Solberg World RX Team, Citroën DS3), 29 pts
2. Robin Larsson (Robin Larsson, Audi A1), 21 pts
3. Johan Kristoffersson (Volkswagen RX Sweden, Volkswagen Polo), 21 pts
4. Toomas Heikkinen (EKS, Audi S1), 20 pts
5. Andreas Bakkerud (Hoonigan Racing Division, Ford Focus RS), 20 points
6. Mattias Ekström (EKS, Audi S1), 19 pts
7. Sebastien Loeb (Team Peugeot-Hansen, PEUGEOT 208 WRX), 17 pts
8. Kevin Eriksson (Olsberg MSE, Ford Fiesta ST), 12 pts
9. Timmy Hansen (Team Peugeot-Hansen, PEUGEOT 208 WRX), 9 pts
10. Liam Doran (JRM, BMW Mini), 8 pts
11. Davy Jeanney (Peugeot-Hansen Academy, PEUGEOT 208 WRX), 7 pts

1. EKSRX, 39 pts
2. SDRX, 28 pts
3. World RX Team Austria, 26 points
4., 20 points
5. Team Peugeot Hansen, 12 pts

2016 CALENDAR * rounds counting towards the European Rallycross Championship
1. April 16-17: Portugal (Montalegre)
2. May 7-8: Germany(Hockenheim)
3. May 14-15: Belgium (Mettet)*
4. May 28-29: Great Britain (Lydden Hill)
5. June 11-12: Norway (Hell)*
6. July 2-3: Sweden (Holjes)*
7. August 6-7: Canada (Trois-Rivières)
8. September 3-4: France (Lohéac)
9. September 17-18: Spain (Barcelona)*
10. October 1-2: Latvia (Riga)*
11. October 15-16: Germany (Estering)
12. November 26-27: Argentina (Rosario)

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