Sebastien Loeb dominated the qualifying run for the Pikes Peak Hill Climb, where he was almost five seconds per mile quicker than the nearest competitor.
Loeb completed the 5.1-mile qualifying run in 3m26.728s, 23 seconds ahead of Romain Dumas, who was driving a Norma prototype in the unlimited class, which includes 13 cars this year.
Qualifying quickest allows Loeb to run first up the hill on Sunday’s race day. Peugeot said, however that it was not reading too much into the Frenchman’s huge advantage.
“Sebastien completed two clean qualifying runs with no problems at all,” said Peugeot’s project chief Jean-Christophe Pallier. “We’re happy with the set-up of the car but we’re not taking anything at all for granted. I’m sure we not seen the ultimate pace of our rivals yet. Now the target is to stay fully focused to achieve our objectives.
“There’s a slight advantage in starting first, as it means that you definitely won’t be affected by other peoples’ racing incidents, but that doesn’t take anything away from the massive challenge that lies ahead.”
Loeb admitted he was pleased with the pace from the 208 T16 Pikes Peak, which set the time at just after 7:00 Colorado time yesterday. The nine-time World Rally champion said: “It’s not like a race, qualifying isn’t really a crucial part of what goes on here. It’s how you perform on the day that counts. You have to rely on your own skills but also the car, the weather and the road conditions as well.
“Anything can still happen, but obviously we’re here to try and win – that’s our mission and we’ll be disappointed if we don’t achieve it. So far we’ve got off to a really good start.”