Updated: Wednesday, 26 March 2014 22:59 | By Agence France-Presse

Rally: Peugeot's lion to roar again in Dakar Rally after long absence

French carmaker Peugeot are to compete in the Dakar Rally in 2015 for the first time in 25 years, race organisers announced on Wednesday.

Rally: Peugeot's lion to roar again in Dakar Rally after long absence

The trophy of the Dakar Rally raid is pictured on March 26, 2014 in Paris, during the official presentation of the event's 2015 route - by Franck Fife

"We welcome the return of the lion (Peugeot symbol) to the Dakar," rally director Etienne Lavigne told a press conference called to unveil the details of next year's race.

Peugeot were dominant in the gruelling rally in the late 1980s winning four times from 1987, but pulled out in 1990.

Spain's Former world rally champion Carlos Sainz, 51; France's five-time Dakar bike champion Cyril Despres, 39, and another as yet unnamed driver - possibly Dakar legend and 11-time winner Stephane Peterhansel - will be at the wheels of their 2008 Crossovers, Peugeot announced later.

"(Carlos) is an extremely experienced driver, an exceptional man with an incredible charisma," said Peugeot Sport director Bruno Famin.

Turning to Despres he said: "He's going to switch from two to four wheels and will bring us relative youth."

According to Peugeot director Maxime Picat: "We are committed for several years with humility regarding the event and our rivals but also to win starting from 2015."

In a statement Peugeot said their return "recalls a particularly successful period in the history of the French team which made an indelible mark on the Dakar by winning the legendary competition four years running from 1987 until 1990."

Next year's Dakar Rally will start and end in Buenos Aires covering 9,000 kilometres (5,600 miles) and passing through both Chile and Bolivia on the way, organisers announced.

In total there will be 13 stages in three countries, but the rally will not take in Peru this time for budgetary reasons.

Lavigne said one new feature would be "marathon stages in every category, for motorbikes and quads like this year but also for cars and trucks, at different times on different terrains".

The aim, he added, was "to increase the difficulty and interest in this 2015 edition".

"Car (and truck) drivers will be auto-sufficient for two days, they'll sleep in the same conditions as motorbike riders.

"They won't have any outside help, nor mechanical or logistical support.

"It'll be interesting to see the top drivers tackling these basic conditions, as the support vehicles comprise almost half the fleet."

- driest place on earth -

Once again the rally will take in Chile's Atacama desert, the driest place on earth, and cross the Andes mountain range twice.

Next year's January 4-17 renewal will be the 37th staging of a race that started as the Paris-Dakar Rally and the seventh time it will be held in South America.

The Dakar Rally has been targeted in the past by environmentalists but on this issue Lavergne commented: "The environment, far from being a problem, is one of our priorities.

"The Dakar is staged where it is allowed to be staged (by the local authorities)."

Last year the rally, which involves cars and motorbikes, quads and trucks, started in Rosario in Argentina and finished in Valparaiso in Chile. Nani Roma of Spain in a Mini won the cars section and Marc Coma of Spain on a KTM won for the bikes.

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