Preview Dakar 2014: 9,374 km through South America

Preview of Dakar 2014
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B the 'Dakar' is making a guest appearance in South America for the sixth time. This time we will drive from Argentina to Chile. Peru, in the last two years according to the location of the finish or the start, is excluded. For this, Bolivia is part of the party, but only for two days and exclusively for motorcyclists.

The organizer ASO, a large French media company, takes care not to confirm that the selection of the countries to be traveled through has something to do with the fees to be paid to ASO. But it is an open secret in the scene that the governments of Chile and Argentina pay substantial subsidies to the organizers. We are talking about a total of around 8 million euros.

Defending champion Peterhansel back on miniature

The Dakar is not a cheap undertaking for the teams either. 'We are transferring a total of around one million euros in entry fees to ASO', calculated Sven Quandt, the owner of the X-Raid-Mini-Team years ago. This sum is now likely to be significantly higher: Because the team from Trebur has no fewer than 12 prototypes at the start - 11 Mini All 4 Racing and a BMW X3.

The Mini Armada is led by the eleven Dakar -Winner Stéphane Peterhansel from France. Other top drivers in the Mini are the Pole Krzysztof Holowczyc, the Spaniard Nani Roma, and Nasser Al-Attiyah from Qatar, the 2011 Dakar winner, who was still in the VW Race Touareg at the time. The other drivers of the Mini - all of them financially strong high-end amateurs, including the German Stephan Schott - are good for top 15 placements.

Whether Mini, the really big triumphs of 2012 and 2013, when Peterhansel won the overall ranking, can repeat, but is written in the stars: 'After the rest day, there are three or four very difficult days on the program in Chile,' says Sven Quandt. 'The terrain there suits our opponents in the rear-wheel drive buggies very well. It may well be that the best buggy drivers there can make up to 25 minutes a day on our Mini and that the result is turned upside down again shortly before the finish line . ' Explanation: The BMW turbodiesel (3 liter, 6 cylinder) of the Mini only produce around 320 hp due to regulations, the V8 gasoline engines of the buggy have more than 400 hp - with roughly the same basic weight of almost two tons.
The disadvantage of two-wheel drive standscontrary to the fact that the buggies were allowed very long suspension travel by the rule makers. Up to 50 centimeters of suspension travel gives the buggies advantages in rough terrain. The 4WD cars have to be content with 25 centimeters.

Buggies with good chances

The big star of the buggy -Faction is Carlos Sainz: The Spaniard drives SMG from team principal Philippe Gache. This car has potential. In 2013, Guerlain Chicherit set the best times of the day with the SMG.

Also candidates for victory are the extremely experienced and lightning-fast Americans BJ Baldwin and Robby Gordon. While the latter is driving a rear-wheel drive prototype he developed himself, Baldwin, the 2012 and 2013 Baja 1000 winner, is driving a newly developed 2 WD pickup made by Frenchman Eric Vigouroux, who lives in California. Of course, both cars are powered by naturally aspirated V8 engines.

Toyota and Ford are also discovering the Dakar's advertising value. The driving force behind the factory support operations of these pickups (all-wheel drive, V8 gasoline engine) are the South African importers. Places on the podium are within reach, especially for Toyota. Giniel de Villiers, the 2009 Dakar winner, crossed the finish line in second place with his German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz in the Hilux prototype last year. At Dakar newcomer Ford, they would be happy if top driver Lucio Alvarez from Argentina made it into the top 15.

From a German perspective, the rejection of German rally champion Matthias Kahle is regrettable. Reason: Co-driver and financier Dr. Thomas Schünemann wants to take a break this year. Kahles last year's team, the SAM team of team principal Sven Knorr, is there with two cars. The prototypes with the body shell of the M-Class are driven by Paydrivers. Top placements for SAM are therefore rather unlikely.


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