|Dakar Rally 2014: Team Ford Racing with technical problems at Dakar debut.|
Team Ford Racing made its highly anticipated competitive debut on the Dakar Rally on Sunday. The event lived up to its reputation as one of the world´s toughest races with both crews unfortunately picking up mechanical woes.
Lucio Alvarez / Ronnie Graue (#308) and Chris Visser / Japie Badenhorst (#329) set off from Rosario just after 6 am, covering the lengthy 405 km road section before the start of the special stage in the region of Cordoba. The 180 km competitive section was extremely rocky and narrow, throwing the teams into the thick of it right from the start, with searing 36-degree heat adding to the challenge.
Unfortunately Alvarez/Graue encountered problems with the Ranger´s throttle body on the engine 100 km into the stage. They had to fit a spare unit before they were able to continue.
This cost the Argentine pair approximately two hours, but they managed to complete the remaining stage and 224 km liaison to the bivouac in San Luis without further problems. The total stage time of 04:25:44 hours sec saw them finish 02:05:08 hours behind stage winners Carlos Sousa and Miguel Ramalho (Great Wall Haval).
"It has been a tough first day, and we are disappointed," said Lucio Alvarez. "After about 100 kilometers the throttle body broke and we had no option but to stop and change it. It was a long job but it was worth it, and although we lost a lot of time we were able to finish the stage. We will take tomorrow as a new challenge and fight our way through the field."
Visser/Badenhorst were running as high as ninth at the stage´s first waypoint, a mere 43 seconds behind the leader. However they were sidelined when the wheel nuts sheared off the front right hub, and they had to wait for the team´s T4 race truck to arrive to conduct repairs. They managed to finish the stage, but lost a significant 04:34:38 hours to the front-runners.
"It´s a disappointing start for Team Ford Racing, but these things happen in motorsport," reported Neil Woolridge, Ford team manager. "The Dakar Rally is a very long and tough event, and we would prefer these issues to present themselves at the beginning of the race instead of close to the end. Lucio and Ronnie worked extremely hard in sweltering heat to get the car going again, which shows their determination not to give up."
"The team is working flat-out getting the cars ready for tomorrow," Woolridge added. "We believe that we have the cars and the crews to be competitive, and trust that both teams will be able to claw back time on the leaders."
Top 10 Results SS01 Rosario - San Luis
01) Sousa / Ramalho (PT/PT) I Great Wall Haval I 02:20:36 I 00:00:00
02) Terranova / Fiuza (ARG/PT) I X-raid Mini I 02:20:47 I 00:00:11
03) Al Attiyah / Cruz (QT/ES) I X-raid Mini I 02:21:23 I 00:00:47
04) Roma / Perin (ES/F) I X-raid Mini I 02:21:51 I 00:01:15
05) Sainz / Gottschalk (ES/D) I SMG Gache Buggy I 02:24:39 I 00:04:03
06) Peterhansel / Cottret (F/F) I X-raid Mini I 02:24:57 I 00:04:21
07) Holowczyc / Zhiltsov (PL/RUS) I X-raid Mini I 02:24:57 I 00:04:21
08) Lavieille / Garcin (F/F) I Great Wall Haval I 02:26:18 I 00:05:42
09) Poulter / Howie (RSA/RSA) I Toyota Hilux I 02:26:33 I 00:05:57
10) Van Loon / Rosegaar (NL/NL) I Ford HRX Proto I 02:26:38 I 00:06:02
2014/01/06 | 18:57 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/CHAANE