Back then the course was mainly dirt, so no real comparison can be made, but both drivers are equally impressive.
The Peugeot 405 T16 GR was was built in a coupe body style in mid-engine configuration, had constant four wheel drive with electronically adjustable center differential like the 205 T16, as it was based on the same technology. At least four were produced, competing in hill climbs and the Paris-Dakar rally. Today, three are in the official Peugeot museum, and the other is in a private collection.
What was the Peugeot 405 T16 like to drive?
Let’s hear it from the man himself, Ari Vatanen:
“It’s hard to find the words to describe this car. Stunning! If a rally car can be compared to a 10.000 metre runner and a rally raid car is the equivalent of a marathon runner, then this one is a 100 metre sprinter. It’s on a quite different plane. Just think: over 600 horsepower in a car weighing hardly 900 kilos. Four-wheel-drive and four-wheel-steering, and with aerodynamics whose effects you can feel.
Then you have to consider where it was being used: on that amazing climb, which you can only drive flat-out from start to finish once in a year.
One thing I’ll remember forever was an occurrence during our preparations in Colorado. We prepared the cars in a workshop in an industrial estate, where it was possible to do a quick roll-out on a closed-off street.
Jean Todt sat beside me in the car, but of course there was no passenger seat. The car’s acceleration on tarmac (0-200 in under 10 secs) had made me think that this is how it must feel to be catapulted off the deck of an aircraft carrier! Jean tried to hang on to whatever solid objects he could find inside the car, but when I stamped on the pedal he just disappeared from my peripheral view… getting squashed against the firewall in the back!
Watching the Climb Dance video you can hear me playing with the clutch. It was necessary to do that to maintain sufficient turbo boost. If I’d changed to a lower gear, all four wheels would have just spun insanely. In my younger days I had had to play with the clutch because of a lack of power, but now I had too much of it!
Amongst the jewelry of competition cars, this one was a diamond. Like unique jewelry is only worn on rare occasions, the Pikes Peak car was only used to climb the hill once a year.
But the enjoyment you get from driving that car… it really is the ultimate!”