Peugeot 205 T16 “Grand Raid” (1987~90)

Published on: Mar 5, 2017 @ 19:40
(C) Jay Auger - website owner & author
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Peugeot 205 T16 GR5.jpg


After Group B’s ban in the WRC, and the untimely death of the Group S replacement formula, Peugeot was frantically searching for other venues to continue on their incredible successes with the 205 T16. Before the 1986 rally season was even over, Peugeot started to devise a special version of the car to participate in upcoming rally raid events such as the famous Paris~Dakar.



While the 205 Turbo 16 was a very capable rally car, Peugeot’s engineering team would revise its every facets to ensure its success in endurance rally raid events. The chassis was reinforced substantially and elongated by 12 inches (30 cms) between the engine and the passenger compartment to accommodate a 350 litre fuel tank. The much longer wheelbase would also help give the car a more stable footprint.


Further improvements were made to the T16 engine package as Peugeot was no longer restricted by the Group B displacement class rules. The XU8T’s engine displacement was slightly increased to 1905 cc. The revised “XU9T” engine was capable of much power but was tuned down to around 360 HP to accommodate the cheaper African fuels. This also helped in getting more fuel mileage and promote better reliability: all of which are key to success in the desert venues.


The suspension was also raised and beefed up substantially to survive to the extra abuse. In addition to the regular spare tire in the front bay, two more could be fitted: one in the rear engine compartment and another on the roof. The resulting “Grand Raid” specifications made the 205 T16 weigh 1360 kg (3,000 lbs) with a full tank of gas. Adding the crew and extra gear needed to survive the desert could get the weight up to a hefty 1600 kg (3,530 lbs).


In October of 1986, before leaving for Dakar, the Peugeot Talbot Sport team carried out tests on the difficult roads around Château-Lastour, in France, and then a few weeks later in Niger’s part of the Sahara desert. In these tests, the car was submitted to more than 4,000 kms (2,500 miles) of hard abuse. Instantly, the car showed speed, reliability, and overall ruggedness.

The 205 T16 Grand Raid was thus ready for the 1987 running of the Paris~Dakar which started on January 1st outside of Versailles. Peugeot, under the supervision of motorsport team boss Jean Todt, would field three cars and entrust them to an impressive trio of drivers; WRC star driver Ari Vatanen, seconded by Shekhar Metha (the 1981 African Rally Champion), and Andrea Zanussi.


Before even leaving Paris, Ari Vatanen tore a wheel off the car and dropped down to the 274th position. However, the team would never quit and regained every position to clinch the overall victory. Mehta finished in fifth place overall while Zanussi retired with engine failure. For this edition of the Dakar, the Peugeot team claimed no less than 10 stage wins.

This was to be the beginning of Peugeot’s domination in the African deserts as Vatanen would also win the 1987 Pharaoh’s Rally.

Peugeot 205 T16 GR PH.jpg

Later in 1987, not resting on their success, Peugeot began developing a new prototype for the Paris-Dakar: the 405 Turbo 16 Grand Raid. The new car took the innovative solutions of the 205 T16 Grand Raid while optimizing them in a less constrained package.

1988 Peugeot 405 T16 Grand Raid

However, the 205 T16 is not discarded, as for the 1988 running of the race, Jean Todt decided to align two 405s and two 205s. That year saw the change from the iconic yellow “Camel” livery to the white and blue “Pioneer” look. Peugeot would have certainly preferred a 405 to win for commercial reasons since the production model had recently been out in the dealerships, however this was not to be since the car of Ari Vatanen was stolen overnight in Bamako. The other 405 T16, driven by Henri Pescarolo, finished with a disappointing 18th place despite clinching three stage victories. The overall victory would still be for Peugeot thanks to the valiant efforts of Juha Kankkunen with the 205 T16, the other car finishing sixth.

Peugeot 205 405 T16 GR 1988.jpg

For the 1989 and 1990 editions of the Paris-Dakar, Peugeot renewed the duo of the 405/205 T16 entries but this time the priority is strictly given to the 405 cars. Both years are won by the 405 T16 team of Ari Vatanen and Bruno Berglund. Nonetheless, in 1989, the 205 T16s performed well with a fourth place for Guy Frequelin and an eighth place for Philippe Wambergue. In 1990, the 205 T16s claimed third place with Alain Ambrosino and twelfth with Philippe Wambergue.

After the 1990 running of the race, Peugeot Talbot Sport decided to officially retire the 205/405 T16s from competition to concentrate on the development of the 905 prototype racer in the World Sportscar Championship. However, this would not be the last victory for the proven Peugeot T16’s engineering: sister PSA company Citroën would use it as the base for its ZX Grand Raid vehicle which would subsequently win the Paris-Dakar event 4 times from 1991 through 1996, officially retiring in 1997.

1991 Citroen ZX GR.jpg
1991 Citroën ZX Grand Raid

This means that the 205 Turbo 16 was a design that came to be competitive for over a decade: an achievement that is seldom seen in motorsport and a testament to Group B’s influence.


Group/Class Cars # built: 3
Years active 1987~1990 Paris-Dakar Wins: 1987, 1988
Type XU9T, I-4, DOHC 16v, gas located middle transverse
Displacement 1905 cc
Compression ratio 6.5:1
Output power – torque 360 HP @ 7500 rpm 330 lb~ft (450 Nm) @ 4500 rpm
Materials block: aluminium alloy cylinder head: aluminium alloy
  • Garret T31 turbocharger
  • air to water intercooler with water injection
  • Marelli-Solex fuel injection
  • Thomson ignition system
Boost: 20~22 psi (1.4~1.5 bar)
Ignition electronic, firing order 1-3-4-2
Cooling system water-cooled
Lubrication system dry sump
Type four wheel drive 6 speed gearbox
Gearbox ratios N/A N/A
Differential ratio N/A spiral bevel gears epicyclic center differential with Ferguson viscous coupling, hypoid spiral bevel gears limited slip 25% front and 75% rear ZF differentials
Clutch ventilated double plate
Chassis / body
Type 20C steel monocoque central chassis enforced with tubular roll cage and tubular subframe for front engine bay & suspension and tubular subframe for rear suspension. 2 door hatchback steel bodyshell with polyester bonnets. Clamshells at front and rear made of polyester, and polyurethane bumpers. Front canard-type spoilers and large rear wing to increase downforce. Optional roof mounted spare tire rack. Chassis reinforced.
Front suspension double wishbones with coil spring, dual telespcopic shock absorbers, reinforced, raised for better ground clearance
Rear suspension double wishbones with coil spring, dual telespcopic shock absorbers, reinforced, raised for better ground clearance
Steering system hydraulic power assistance 2.5 turns lock to lock
Brakes front and rear 2 x aluminium/magnesium 4 piston calipers per disk (8 pistons total) dual circuit with servo, adjustable ratio split front to rear
length: 3825 mm (150.6 in) width: 1770 mm (69.7 in) height: – mm (- in)
wheelbase: 2845 mm (112.0 in) front track: 1430 mm (56.3 in) rear track: 1430 mm (56.3 in)
Rims – tires N/A N/A
  • Wet: 1360 kg (3,000 lbs)
  • Full: 1600 kg (3,530 lbs)
 Bias: F-/R-%
Weight/power – kg/HP (- lb/HP)
Fuel tank 350 litres



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