Chris Ingram, one of the youngest British drivers competing in the Wales Rally GB, scored an impressively dominant victory in the RC4 class. As well as comfortably winning the battle for front-wheel-drive, normally aspirated cars, the 20-year-old from Manchester also finished 39th out of the 160-car field, beating many more powerful four-wheel-drive machines.
It was the Peugeot 208 R2’s debut in the Welsh forests for this round of the FIA World Rally Championship and Ingram, plus French co-driver Gabin Moreau, had a plan to make the most of the car’s agile handling. Chris explained: “We decided to push from the very start and build up a lead. The strategy worked a treat. After the first two stages we were 30 seconds ahead of our nearest class rival and by the end of day one we had a lead of one and a half minutes. That put all the pressure on our rivals and a lot of them crashed trying to keep up.”
“I remembered from the first time I did the Wales Rally GB last year that because this is a gravel rally you have to watch out for rocks. These become more evident the more the stages are used and increase the chances of a puncture so I wanted to have a lead of at least a minute just in case we had to stop to change a wheel. As it was we did get a puncture on Saturday but we managed to keep going to the end of the stage.”
Rallying with the backing of Peugeot UK, Peugeot Financial Services and TOTAL Lubricants in a distinctive Union Flag livery on the 208 R2’s bonnet and flanks, the puncture was the only thing that didn’t go according to plan for the young Brit. Chris said: “There were no dramas at all. Rallying is really hard on the car and the 208 R2 performed absolutely perfectly. Unlike the European rallies which have all been new to me, this was on home terrain. I think I was really unlucky in the last two European rallies in Switzerland and the Czech Republic but it all came together on this event.”
The Wales Rally GB was Ingram’s first gravel rally for Peugeot and it was held in rain and fog. “The conditions were terrible for a front-wheel drive car,” Chris revealed. “But the 208 R2 was incredible for all 300 kilometres.” Ingram’s co-driver Gabin Moreau added: “We are very happy to finish this amazing season with a victory in a World Rally event. The whole team did a superb job and I had a perfect rhythm with Chris. He drove sensibly, not taking any risks, and it was enough to take a great win.”
PEUGEOT 208 R2 RALLY CAR
The Peugeot 208 rally car is constructed to the European Rally Championship R2 competition specification. It is designed to offer an affordable, competitive start in professional rallying. Produced by Peugeot Sport, its design is based on the popular road-going Peugeot 208.
Compared to the 207 it replaced, the 208’s body-shell is around 40kg lighter. A longer wheelbase improves stability and a lower centre of gravity boosts the vehicle’s road-holding capabilities – an important feature in a rally car.
Despite the reduced weight, safety hasn’t been sacrificed: the 208 R2 boasts a strengthened bodyshell with a multi-point welded roll cage, a new manufacturing process for roll cage design and a major safety feature. The 208 R2’s engine is a competition version of the 1.6-litre VTi road car engine. It is naturally-aspirated and with its variable valve timing (VVT), produces 185hp.
The gravel and asphalt versions of the 208 R2 are available to customers in kit form, including a fully-built engine. Those who prefer something a little less hands-on will also be able to buy the 208 R2 pre-built by Peugeot Sport. Kits will be available to allow competitors to convert the gravel version to asphalt, and vice-versa.
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