Former World Rally Champion Ari Vatanen has tipped Sebastien Loeb to set a new benchmark time for the Pikes Peak Hillclimb this year.
Nine-time champion will compete in the unlimited class of this year's June 30 event, driving a Peugeot 208 T16. It will be the Frenchman's first attempt at the now all-asphalt 12.42-mile climb.
"Seb will make a record which will not be broken for a long time," said Vatanen, who won the event while also driving a Peugeot in 1988. "As the America's might say: 'It will be awesome.' Light-heartedly, I say that he had to wait until the course was all tarmac before he could beat my own record!"
Loeb will drive the 850hp, 850kg Peugeot specifically designed for the event. The Frenchman's lack of experience of the Colorado Springs mountain will not hinder him, according to Vatanen.
"It won't be a problem for him to remember the road," said the 1981 World Rally Champion, "but he will have to find the very special commitment needed for this hill climb.
"You cannot drive this road on the limit, you always need to have a little bit in reserve, a margin for error. If you do go off, then let's say the runoff is going to be very soft for a while but there will be a very heavy landing waiting for you!"