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Preview of the Dakar Rally 2015: Peugeot challenges the minis

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Preview of the Dakar Rally 2015
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S ven Quandt, the team boss of the successful mini-team, paints the warning message has long been on the wall: 'If a manufacturer comes to the Dakar with a neatly prepared buggy, he'll very likely win.'

The statement is by no means due to coquetry, nor can Quandt have a slope The gloomy prognosis is based rather on the facts given by the technical regulations, and here it goes completely in the sense of the rear tri ebler.

Regulations like the buggies

The rear-wheel drive buggies have three huge advantages over the 4WD prototypes.

1. The lower weight: while the Mini have to weigh around 1,900 kilograms, the buggy can start with a little more than 1,300 kilograms. For the time being, however, this value is only pure theory for the factory Peugeot. The 2008 DKR weigh around 1,600 kilos. 'We haven't given any thought to weight optimization so far,' reveals Peugeot sporting director Bruno Famin. 'Our focus was solely on reliability.' Nevertheless: a weight reduction of an impressive 300 kilograms compared to the Mini is a word.

2. The greater suspension travel: All-wheel drive vehicles have to get by with 250 millimeters of suspension travel due to the regulations. With the rear-wheel drive the suspension stroke is free. Peugeot opted for 460 millimeters. This of course has advantages on very poor slopes and in open terrain. The other side of the coin: Long spring deflections automatically mean large deflection angles for the drive shafts. Peugeot felt this painfully during the test drives. The drive shafts often broke in two after 100 kilometers.

3. The tire inflation system: Rear-wheel drive vehicles may be equipped with a tire inflation system that allows the air pressure to be changed while driving. The 4WD crews have to stop. The correct air pressure is essential: in the soft sand it should be as low as possible to guarantee the best possible traction. Values ​​from 0.6 to 0.8 bar are common here. On rough terrain, however, the tire pressure must be increased to at least two bar, otherwise there is a risk of tire damage.

This is how the mini Troop

In the battle for the Dakar victory, Mini can use the classic defensive weapons of theScoring motorsports.

1. The bulletproof reliability: How reliable and mature the Countryman prototypes are has been proven very impressively for years.

2. The well-coordinated team: most of the technicians have been with us for many years. You know your Mini like the back of your hand. The boys understand each other blindly. In addition, there is a level-headed team management by Sven Quandt and his two sons Tobias and Thomas. The three Quandts have decades of experience in the desert racing business. The Peugeot team, on the other hand, comes mostly from the circuit.

3. The superior traction of all-wheel drive vehicles: The subject of traction has lost its importance, but it is still very helpful in some situations to have four driven wheels.

Drivers tie

The drivers are tied between Mini and Peugeot: The top performers in the mini squad in the cockpit are last year's winner Nani Roma from Spain and Katari Nasser Al-Attiyah, the 2011 Dakar winner. The eleven-time Dakar winner Stéphane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz, 2010 Dakar winner, are at Peugeot. The third man in the 2008 DKR boat is the Frenchman Cyril Despres, who has already won five times on a motorcycle.

Toyota and Robby Gordon as Dark Horses?

The entire rally world awaits the great duel Mini against the challenger Peugeot . But there are some experts who trust two outsiders to land the really big Dakar coup: Toyota and Robby Gordon with his buggy called 'Gordini'.

But while the fast but often too carefree acting Gordon has been since After ten years in vain after a major success at the Dakar, Toyota has matured into a serious challenger. In their Hilux, South African Giniel de Villiers and his German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz achieved a respectable success in third place in 2012. In 2013 they even finished second In 2014 it was enough for fourth place and a stage win.

The Hilux, built in South Africa with factory support, are a little less spectacular with their classic pickup shape than the Mini and the Peugeot. Technically, however, the Hilux are The rigid rear axle has long been a thing of the past and has given way to a modern independent suspension system, and Toyota has now got something larger air restrictors. The naturally aspirated V8 engine should therefore produce around 400 hp - at least at sea level. 'Compared to last year, the Toyota are one second faster per kilometer,' says last year's winner Nani Roma.

Fear of the Höhe

'A quarter of the special stages will take place at over 3,500 meters this timeinstead, ”says Peugeot sports director Bruno Famin. 'The thin mountain air is a big challenge.' With the turbodiesel engines from Mini and Peugeot, the low-oxygen environment has a far less negative effect than with the naturally aspirated engines in the Toyota and Gordon's Gordini Percentage to be expected.

The physical challenge for the driver and front passenger should not be underestimated either, because everyone knows that anyone can get sick at altitude, even the fittest. The best remedy for dizziness, fatigue and nausea is sufficient Acclimatization. But there is hardly time for that. On Saturday, January 10th, it goes from Iquique on the Pacific in Chile up into the Andes. Sleeping is at 3,600 meters, at the Uyuni salt lake in Bolivia. The special stages even take place in one Altitude of more than 4,000 meters.

Some crews are preparing for the hostile environment with a tried and tested trick by Himalayan mountaineers: Nani Roma's co-driver Michel Périn, for example, has been sleeping at home in a special 'high tent' for weeks. 'Here I can lower the oxygen content,' says the Frenchman. 'This simulates an altitude of around 3000 meters.'

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