Sainz, Cyril Despres, Stéphane Peterhansel and Sébastien Loeb, who have 18 Dakar wins between them, have covered around 5,000km during the two testing sessions to date however the challenging Morocco race conditions will be the most rigorous faced thus far.
Aerodynamics, air conditioning, engine torque and suspension have been the key areas that the engineers have worked on before the drivers got hold of the car.
The car has a cutting edge different shape to raise its aerodynamic capability, while the improved suspension ensures it can tackle any tough terrain asked of it.
Not only that, the car should be able to take on difficult sand dunes with enhanced engine torque, leaving the drivers free to focus more on better times in cooler conditions thanks to refined air conditioning.
Sainz explained, “We’ve been improving a number of details such as suspension and engine driveability: all these things add up to make a difference.
“Morocco is a very important event, as it’s where we can check that the car is in the best possible condition to start the Dakar.”
Despres, who drives the Peugeot 2008 DKR in Morocco, knows how tough rallies can be after coming through a gruelling Silk Way Rally this summer to win – an event that clocks in even longer than the Dakar.
He added, “I can feel a lot of improvement in the stability and suspension, and we’ve also worked a lot on reliability. The Dakar is one of the toughest races in the world, so you need a car that just keeps going.”
Peterhansel, Dakar’s most successful driver ever, added: “I’m very happy with the way that the test programme has gone, and of course we will be following Carlos and Cyril’s progress with huge interest.”
Loeb won more 2016 Dakar stages than anyone else – a fast learner after his transition from WRC.
He revealed, “I obviously still have a lot to learn about Cross Country and the Dakar, as this year was only my first attempt at it.
“But I already completed a lot of testing in Morocco last year, as well as competing on the rally, so I am beginning to get a feel for this sort of terrain. It’s on the sand dune stages that I feel I can improve most, so I have been concentrating a lot on this area.”