Motorsport might be dominated by season-long championships, but there are still some one-off events that have the power to transcend the sport. And succeeding in those events can provide an amazing return for manufacturers at very limited cost.
Last year Peugeot tackled the historic Pikes Peak International Hillclimb, and truly reaped the rewards of it. With Red Bull backing, the French firm crammed some of the internals of its old Le Mans prototype into the bodyshell of a 208 rally car and stuck in a 3.2-litre sportscar engine. The weird creation was an 875bhp beast, designed to take part in just one event. Oh, and then Peugeot borrowed nine-time world rally champion Sebastien Loeb from Citroen to drive it.
Peugeot flew the 208 T16 Pikes Peak and Loeb to Colorodo, sent them off up the 156 turn, 12.42 mile course, and watched the pairing smash the course record. Loeb’s time of 8m 13.878s was more than 90 seconds faster than the previous hill record. It was astonishing: the on-board video remains spellbinding viewing.
I don’t know exactly how much Peugeot spent on the Pikes Peak programme, but it was undoubtedly worth it: in less than nine minutes, and for a fraction of the cost of a Formula One programme, Peugeot basked in an incredible amount of coverage.