Peugeot 205 T16
Peugeot 205 T16
Audi may have revolutionised rallying with their four-wheel-drive, turbocharged Quattro, but much the same can be said of Peugeot a few years later, when they placed the engine sideways in the middle of the car.
"If the Escort was the car that allowed me to express my own ‘handwriting', then the Peugeot represents an endeavour into the unknown in my carteer. There were so many uncertainties inlvolved in the beginning. The car's whole concept was novel for rallying. Also, Peugeot really only had experience of Safari cars up until that point. A lot of people I turned to advised me against joining the team.
But I'd already formed an opinion about Jean Todt (who was heading the project) and found the whole thing wonderfully intriguing. Exploring all those new avenues involved felt exciting and I was not to be disappointed. I had a confident feeling about the car's concept and it did turn into a driver's dream.
There was this unbelievable efficiency about the Peugeot. With the Escort I'd have been sideways with the rear wheels spinning, while the car might not really keep its momentum. But the Peugeot just slingshot out of a corner. Maybe you could compare the two cars in musical terms: in that case driving the Escort would be like rap, whereas driving the 205 would be symphony!
Looking at photos of the Peugeot you can often see it very sideways, but the front wheels would be pointing almost straight. The ideal way to drive it was to make minimal use of the steering-wheel. It was almost like a maestro conducting an orchestra. You'd make the most minute implications and it would respond accordingly. And all the while you got this great sensation of making extremely rapid progress through the special stage. It was a car that could give you a feeling of exaltation, spurring you on to an even higher level.
Sitting in the 205 at the start of a special stage, I can honestly say I was feeling good! I could literally feel a trace of a smile twitching the corners of my mouth."