A few months ago, Peugeot introduced the 2008 DKR and declared their ambitious return to the continent-spanning off-road megarace that is the Dakar Rally. Here's the first clip of their 340 horsepower rear-drive diesel monster in action... and now I'm excited.

The super hot lifted hatch is powered by a V6 twin-turbo diesel engine, mounted "mid-rear" in the car. With rally champ and previous Dakar winner Carlos Sainz and teammate motorcycle legend Cyril Despres driving, Peugeot could be the first team to ever win the race with a 2WD diesel vehicle.

Here's the latest Peugeot 2008 DKR briefing, straight from Peugeot Sport and Red Bull:

How This French 2WD Diesel Hatchback Just Might Dominate Off-Road Racing

In order to balance out the chances of the different solutions, the rules in effect compensate the inherent advantage of 4x4 vehicles by allowing two-wheel-drive machinery to benefit from certain advantages. Technical project manager Jean-Christophe Pallier summarises them: "In motorsport, weight is counter to performance. However, in the case of cross-country rallying, two-wheel drive cars are allowed to be significantly lighter than 4x4s. They are also entitled to use bigger wheels which provide them with a certain advantage when it comes to coping with the many pitfalls associated with this type of terrain. On top of that, they allow us to minimise the front overhang. The 2008 DKR can practically climb vertical walls! And that's not all! Longer suspension travel – 460mm instead of 250mm – enhances its ability over dunes and when soaking up uneven ground. That's a key asset on an event like the Dakar!" Another advantage of the larger wheel size is a system that enables the tyre pressures to be adjusted remotely from inside the cockpit upon entering a zone of dunes – a tactic that could yield a gain of precious minutes!

How This French 2WD Diesel Hatchback Just Might Dominate Off-Road Racing

Beyond the conviction – expressed by Red Bull for the last two years – that two-wheel-drive vehicles possess attractive qualities that shine through even across the most inhospitable of terrains, this technical approach also makes sense for the French manufacturer, as Peugeot Sport director Bruno Famin explains: "Given that the production 2008 is a two-wheel-drive crossover equipped with Grip Control technology – which enables it to go just about anywhere – it is only right that the 2008 DKR derivative should similarly take on the challenges of the Dakar with just two-wheel-drive."

How This French 2WD Diesel Hatchback Just Might Dominate Off-Road Racing

How This French 2WD Diesel Hatchback Just Might Dominate Off-Road Racing

How This French 2WD Diesel Hatchback Just Might Dominate Off-Road Racing

Images & Info: Peugeot Sport/Red Bull