D he motorist nation Germany is at the Dakar Rally not represented in great numbers. At least as far as the number of drivers is concerned: in the car class, only two men hold the black, red and gold flag high: In addition to tool manufacturer Stephan Schott ('KS-Tools'), who is managed by Co Holm Schmidt, a BMW X3 The prototype of the X-Raid team is driving, only the seven-time German rally champion Matthias Kahle and his co-driver Thomas Schünemann are back in South America - in an SMG buggy with a BMW engine.
The one from Görlitz arrives The rally professional from the Polish border and the Hamburg software entrepreneur can look forward to a successful start. After two rally days with a total of around 550 special stage kilometers, the duo is in twelfth place in the overall standings, just 44 minutes behind leader Carlos Sainz in the VW Touareg. Kahle /Schünemann lead the buggy standings with a comfortable lead of more than a quarter of an hour over the runner-up.
Brake problems on the Kahle buggy
Kahles SMG buggy did not run perfectly: 'We drove for two days with practically no brakes at the front right', reported copilot Schünemann. 'The brake piston must have jammed.' Kahle only grumbled in the cockpit: 'Yes, something is wrong', drove on unmoved, and then said: 'If the car stood sideways when braking, it must have looked like an old joke when Jerry Lewis drives the car.'
The weather was also annoying at times: The first two days of racing were spiced up with heavy downpours. The body of the SMG is only designed for this to a limited extent: A torrent of water repeatedly entered the cockpit. 'Sometimes the interior reminded me of a stalactite cave,' said Schünemann.
Matthias Kahle makes the Zen monk
a point of honor that Kahle did not let that put him off. 'Matthias makes the Zen monk,' observed Schünemann. 'When driving, he enters a kind of trance state. He never makes wild movements on the steering wheel and he always knows long in advance what the car is about to do.'
Tactically speaking, the beer calm is Matthias Kahle owns, absolutely valuable. Especially on the first stages of the Dakar it is a great virtue not to press the accelerator too hard. Because every Dakar connoisseur knows: You can take part in the rally on the angular stages in the pampas and in the low mountain rangeCertainly not win - but you can lose it.
Rear-wheel drive buggy with no chance against all-wheel-drive prototypes
In the buggy standings, Kahle /Schünemann are well on track in the battle for overall victory However, they cannot seriously have their say, although the paper form speaks for buggies. The SMG racer is very light: At just over 1,300 kilos, it weighs around half a ton less than the prototypes from BMW and VW.
Kahle doesn't have to starve on the engine side either. In the rear of the buggy, a BMW twin-turbo diesel with around 300 hp and 700 Nm rages, the X3 and Chicherits Mini don't have much more to offer. Another plus point for the buggy is the chassis: it offers a whopping 50 centimeters of spring travel - exactly twice as much as is allowed for four-wheeled vehicles.
Pampa slopes too curvy and too hilly
The times when you could win the Dakar with a buggy, as Jean-Louis Schlesser did in 1999 and 2000, are irrevocable past. Mainly because the character of the exams has changed significantly. In Schlesser's heyday people drove in Africa, and there the desert slopes with their miserably long straights were often tailor-made for the French and his self-made vehicle.