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. While the 205 Turbo 16 was a very capable rally car, Peugeot’s engineering team always complained about the short wheelbase which limited the car in various areas.
The adventure to fix these issues started in late 1986 with a special version of the 205 T16 made specifically for the Paris-Dakar endurance race. The chassis was reinforced substantially and elongated by 12 inches (30 cms) between the engine and the passenger compartment to accommodate a 350 liter fuel tank. The much longer wheelbase would also help give the car a more stable footprint.
For the 1987 edition of the Paris-Dakar, Ari Vatanen claimed no less than 10 stage wins with the car to bring victory home to Peugeot. Later that year, not resting on their success, Peugeot began developing a new prototype: the 405 Turbo 16. The new car took all the innovative solutions developed for the 205 T16 Grand Raid while optimizing them in a less constrained package. The revised chassis, albeit very similar, was now fully tubular and was also used for another version of the 405 T16 aimed at winning the Pikes Peak hill climb.
Compared with the 205 T16 Grand Raid version, further improvements were made to the “XU9T” T16 engine package and fitted with new technologies such as dual variable valve timing and a variable geometry Garrett turbocharger. The improved engine safely bumped the power up from 360 to 400 HP albeit the engine was capable of much more power but this was done to accommodate the cheaper African fuels. Other notable differences are an increase in fuel capacity from 350 to 435 litres and an overall weight reduction of about 60 kg (130 lbs).
For the 1988 running of the Paris-Dakar, Jean Todt decided to align two 405 T16s and two 205 T16s. 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 and held for ransom. 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.
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. Jean Todt’s faith in the new car was rewarded as both years are decisively won by the 405 T16 team of Ari Vatanen and Bruno Berglund: securing once again Peugeot’s place in the history books as being the first manufacturer to record 4 straight wins at the event.
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.
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.
405 T16 GRAND RAID – SPECIFICATIONS
|Group/Class||Cars||# built: 2|
|Years active||1988~1990||Paris-Dakar Wins: 1989, 1990|
|Type||XU9T, I-4, DOHC 16v, gas||located middle transverse|
|Output power – torque||400 HP @ 7500 rpm||361 lb~ft (490 Nm) @ 4000 rpm|
|Materials||block: aluminium alloy||cylinder head: aluminium alloy|
||Boost: up to 32 psi (2.2 bar)|
|Ignition||electronic, firing order 1-3-4-2|
|Cooling system||water-cooled||1400W tri-phase Valeo alternator|
|Lubrication system||dry sump|
|Type||four wheel drive||TJ type – 6 speed manual gearbox|
|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||ceramic double plate – hydraulic operation|
|Chassis / body|
|Type||tubular steel spaceframe with front and rear subframes. 405 sedan type modified to 2 doors with carbon/kevlar body panels. Front and rear removable clamshells. Large rear spoiler.|
|Front suspension||double wishbones with coil spring, dual Bilstein telespcopic shock absorbers, reinforced, raised for better ground clearance|
|Rear suspension||double wishbones with coil spring, dual Bilstein telespcopic shock absorbers, reinforced, raised for better ground clearance|
|Steering system||hydraulic power assistance||2.5 turns lock to lock|
|Brakes||front and rear ventilated discs with AP 4 pot calipers||dual circuit with servo, adjustable ratio split front to rear|
|length: 4250 mm (167.3 in)||width: 1760 mm (69.3 in)||height: – mm (- in)|
|wheelbase: 2888 mm (113.7 in)||front track: 1430 mm (56.3 in)||rear track: 1430 mm (56.3 in)|
|Rims – tires||16 inch||Michelin 18/73-16|
|Weight/power||– kg/HP (- lb/HP)|
|Fuel tank||435 litres|
AVAILABLE LITERATURE & DVDs
Paris Dakar: 25 Ans d’Histoire (French)
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