Mühlberger's Dakar Blog (5): The French Ken Block

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Mühlberger's Dakar blog (5)
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G uerlain Chicherit is the French Ken Block. He is well on the way to becoming just as popular as the drifting Kaspar from the USA, who achieved crazy clicks with his (extremely professional) YouTube videos. After the subject of drifting was already very competently covered by Block, the French had to come up with something new - the first somersault with a car, a real world first. For a few days you can see on youtube how the mini-prototype specially built for this big circus act is screwing up.

Somersault in a mini

'I don't show the landing in the video yet', the Frenchman grins. 'I'll save that for the beginning of February when I perform the somersault in front of an audience for the first time.' If you ask persistently, Chicherit comes out with a few details. 'Nobody has tried something like this before. That's why I couldn't fall back on empirical values ​​or a computer simulation. So I just tried it. First, of course, I landed in a five-meter-high air cushion.' After 35 test jumps the time had come. The jump speed and angle of the hill finally matched perfectly and Chicherit could get serious.

Chicherit is a desert specialist

What that has everything to do with the Dakar rally? Quite simply: the Frenchman, whom the whole world calls 'Chichi', is one of the best desert drivers - even if the general public may not have really noticed that yet. But with his second place in the daily classification of the extremely difficult fourth stage between Nazca and Arequipa, Chicherit showed what he can do. After 289 kilometers he was only 36 seconds slower than the day's winner Nasser Al-Attiyah in the Qatar buggy, although he had to struggle with a badly bent control arm on the front axle. The front left of the SMG buggy had a camber of around 15 degrees. Often half is enough to seriously worry a driver.

Chicherit's brilliant achievement naturally also highlights the performance of the SMG buggy. Team boss Philippe Gache's French rear-wheel drive cars have been part of the Dakar for half an eternity. Mathias Kahle and Thomas Schünemann, among others, started with an SMG buggy. But they didn't really enjoy it at the timeunreliable technology of her vehicle.

Chichi is also freestyle ski world champion

But these problems are now apparent largely sorted out. 'This time we tested extensively before the Dakar,' stressed Chicherit. 'A total of around 6,000 kilometers in Morocco.' In paper form, the SMG buggies - just like the companions of the Qatar team - are hot candidates for top 5 placements. The sports equipment from SMG weighs in at just 1,500 kilos. The V8 engine from Chevrolet puts you in a good mood because it sounds good and because it pulls well.

Just like Nasser Al-Attiyah, Chicherit also practices two sports at the highest level. When he's not roaming the deserts and pampas, he hangs out on the world's steepest ski slopes. As a freestyle skier - those guys who feel most comfortable in 50 degree steep terrain - he was world champion four times.

X-Raid team boss Sven Quandt was a fan of Chicherit for a long time. The Frenchman drove BMW prototypes from Trebur for many years and the team boss stuck to him despite a few unnecessary accidents. But two years ago, fun was over. At the Dakar premiere of the Mini, Chichi, who was under special observation by Quandt anyway, had a clear task: 'Don't push. The car must cross the finish line under all circumstances.' On the special stages, the Frenchman with irritatingly bright eyes stuck to the specifications. But on the day of rest he suffered a legendary dropout that is unparalleled in the ten-year history of X-Raid: During the shakedown, he overlooked a wave, the Mini rolled over several times, the end.

To make matters worse, Sven Quandt was initially unable to comment on the mishap because he suffered from food poisoning. But there were consequences: Chicherit no longer drives for X-Raid since then. And Quandt recently has his own cook with him.

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