|Dakar Rally 2013: SAM Mercedes Team keeps cool head despite the heat.|
While the European rush-hour traffic is paralyzed due to ice and snow in many places, the desert adventurers of the Dakar have to fight against the malicious heat of Argentina’s midsummer.
Since the crossing of the Andes four days ago, temperatures have always been above 30°C. One of the German "HS Rally Team" support vehicles even measured 43°C on the liaison stage between Cordoba and La Rioja.
Under the burning sun, the teams had to complete a 353 kilometers long, curvy rally competition on this 10th day of the Dakar. The distance approximately equals a whole WRC rally world championship - without a single break.
Matthias Kahle and Thomas Schünemann had a perfect starting position thanks to their 9th place the day before. Consequently, the team tackled the special as the ninth team and proved its capabilities: Once again, Kahle/Schünemann reached position nine in the daily classification, only by 14:19 minutes behind daily winner Orlando Terranova (BMW X3CC).
"The stage of Tuesday was heavy work. The Special took more than four hours - and we had around 70°C in the cockpit" said Matthias Kahle. "Each of us drank four liters of water in order not to dehydrate. We have been really defensive in our driving and did not over-strain the car. The thermal was within the normal range all the time, this makes us feel optimistic for the Fiambalá stage."
In the overall classification, the SAM 30D CC of the HS Rally Team caught up with the two competitors in front: Geoffrey Olholm (Toyota Hilux Pickup), Boris Garafulic (Mini All4 Racing) and Kahle/Schünemann are less than ten minutes apart after 6,000 kilometers, 3,000 of which competition.
Navigator Thomas Schünemann said: "Tuesday we became aware of the importance of a good starting position. The first ten teams start in a three-minute cycle, the cars behind one every minute or even every 30 seconds."
"This time we did not have to swallow sand and came really close to the top with our total time. The days before, we had suffered from worse starting positions and our tyre damage of the sixth day. In the dust of our competitors, we could not move forward."
By only 26 minutes behind, even the sought-after 10th position is within reach. And the perhaps most difficult stage of the entire rally is still to come: In the notorious white dunes of Fiambalé, things have often changed in the past.
SAM-Team Captain Sven Knorr: "We still have four stages to go and are right on target. Even if the Top Ten is within reach, we will not change our tactics. It would be negligent to go on the offensive now. We will keep on driving as we did so far and see what happens."
2013/01/16 | 16:09 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/SAM/KAHLE