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Dakar Rally 2014: The Story behind - British "RallyRaid-co-uk" history.

It would be interesting to find out how many Dakar Rally teams began as one man’s dream to drive in the biggest motorsport event in the world. Paul Round is one of those men, who sixteen years later is still obsessed with the event. After reading about the Dakar and without hesitation he set about finding a suitable car.

Being English he naturally thought that a Land Rover Defender would be the answer, this was re-enforced by the fact that a Range Rover had won the event in 1979 and figured highly in the results for the following decade. He was also encouraged on by the fact that any organisation, military or civilian, that needed a tough 4X4 would choose the Solihull product.

A few days into the 1999 event with son Mark as co-driver he was forced to retire and realised that a lot of things had changed during the preceding twenty years and the Land Rover was not the best car.

Being a Yorkshire man, who are noted for their determination, he put his failure behind him and set about finding the right car. As there weren’t any producers of desert racing cars in Britain he approached a company that made ‘off road specials’ and a tempestuous relationship began. Two years and two disastrous Dakar’s later he decided he could do it better on his own and let the company carry on producing the car.

Paul started again using the opportunity to update his thoughts and ideas. During this time Mike Jones, a successful motorcycle enduro racer, was going down the same path. He had spectated at the Dakar Rally and decided to build his own car for the British Hill Rally Championship as a way of gaining his international licence. The space framed Range Rover ‘look alike’ served him well but he tried innovations. One of those was a Land Rover Freelander which gave him his first experience abroad at the Spanish Baja and the Tunisian Optic 2000.

It was on one of these outings that he met Paul Round and they have been working together ever since. The relationship works very well with Mike using every available computer aid to design the special cars while Paul supervises construction at their Huddersfield base. From this relationship RABE Race Cars was formed which constructs the cars while Rally Raid UK sell and hire the cars and provide race support. About this time the car was given the name of Desert Warrior and the then current model was name DW1. The specification was steadily improved until it reached a point when they realised that they no longer had the same car so the DW2 was born. Compared with the original this had independent suspension, hydraulic jacking, state of the art gearboxes, the latest dampers and an up to date electronic system.

This car was raced in events in Russia, the Middle East, North Africa and in South America when the Dakar changed continents. During this period their efforts were directed at reliability and performance and cosmetics were largely ignored. At the Dakar Rally it was noticeable that the cars were changing, gone was the chunky appearance associated with road going 4x4’s replaced by slick sports car or production saloon car styling.

A drastic decision was taken by Paul and Mike to undertake a complete redesign. Several shortcomings had become obvious which could not be cured by small changes; these included better internal space for the drivers and the layout of the various cooling systems and the exhaust. They decided that all the design work would be carried out ‘in house’ which meant a huge workload for Mike and a substantial investment. The first sketches were regarded as a bit futuristic but were eventually adhered to. The release of a computer rendition which resembled the Range Rover Evogue lead many people to believe that Rally Raid UK intended to race a version of that car.

Nothing was further from the truth, the design started from the basic requirements and the outer shell was wrapped around it. Previously a clay plug had been used to construct the body panels this being the traditional method for small production runs. Computer Aided Design programs enabled the desired specification to be adhered to while producing a pleasing shape.

The body moulds were laser cut from high density foam which means that the body panels fit perfectly. As part of this modern approach small innovations were possible such as building the snorkel into the ‘A’ pillar which takes its air from inside the roof top air scoop which is the highest point on the car and largely free from fine sand. A wind tunnel simulation program crafted the best shape including the position of the roof top air scoop for the best engine cooling and lowest drag.

Internally the layout benefited from the same thought process which provided more driver space, better diagnostic electronics and high efficiency driver air ducts. The photograph shows the spacious cockpit layout and clean design, also the latest switch gear can be seen which is derived from aircraft technology. Air conditioning was added as an option and internal storage for personal items was increased.

Thought was given to annoying tasks such as wheel changing which no longer need the tool kit as the battery powered torque wrench is stored in the roll cage and by using the hydraulic jacks a wheel can be changed in a couple of minutes. One of the original concerns was the routing of the exhaust system which on most cars has to go around the rear suspension where it becomes vulnerable. The new car has a system that vents sideways below the co-driver’s door and is fully protected; it can be clearly seen in photographs.

The shell design went through a series of stages and it was decided that Land Rover Evogue lights and front grill would be used as these are reasonably priced and readily available. As a result some enthusiasts still consider the DW3 is a race version of an Evogue but those are the only common components. The early DW1 used the Land Rover TD5 engine coupled to a Land Rover gearbox and beam axles. By the time the DW2 was in use this had changed to a BMW 3 litre engine, a specialised gearbox and independent suspension.

Several makes of damper units were tried, including Fox, before Rieger units became standard fitment. This tried and tested specification has carried on to the DW3. Much thought had been given to the tasks that the mechanics have to perform in the desert and these are obvious in the attention to small details such as the ease that the air filter is changed and a full width tool tray in front of the engine. The photograph of the engine bay shows the clean layout and the tops of the four Rieger units are clearly in view.

The Rally Raid policy is not to have supported drivers; everybody is a customer and receives the same support, service and assistance aimed at crossing the finishing line. Despite being a UK based company the majority of their customers are from overseas, drivers from twelve countries have used their services. Rally Raid UK are one of the few service and support organisations that enter motorcycles, cars and trucks in desert races and have taken almost four hundred individuals to the Dakar Rally alone and a high number to other events. Increasingly they find themselves assuming the service role for teams as well as individuals; these include teams from China, Korea and the USA.

For 2014 which runs into the 2015 Dakar Rally a new team has taken responsibility for the motorcycle part of the operation. RallyMoto is a UK based organisation that runs events in the UK and provides support at some desert events. Their involvement has come about as a result of pressure on Rally Raid due to the excellent reception that the new car has received which limits the time they can devote to motorcycles. It has long been the aim of Rally Raid UK to have their own motorcycle in a similar way to the Desert Warrior is their own car; a lot of time has been spent on the project which is coming to fruition. Part of RallyMoto’s task is to carry the Desert Raider motorcycle programme forward.

At the next Dakar Rally in January there will be thirty four riders, drivers and mechanics from seven countries and eleven vehicles, which is a good indication of the progress that Paul Round has made since 1999. Rally Raid UK is probably the largest, most successful and longest established private team. Following the Dakar the team from Rally Raid UK organise an extensive training and testing bivouac.

Based in Morocco during May, existing and potential riders and drivers receive instruction in sand techniques and navigation skills. It also allows them to see Rally Raid’s extensive fleet of service and support vehicles and test the new car and motorcycle. Planning for events in the coming season and the 2015 Dakar Rally has already begun with orders for cars already placed.

More information on support and service can be found at the official website [ RALLYRAID.CO.UK ].

2013/11/27 | 10:00 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/JIM

Dakar Rally 2014: Nani Roma und Michel Périn win the legendary desert rally. | 20.01.2014 20:07 |

Dakar Rally 2014: Xavier Foj and Toyota achieves third place in T2 cars class. | 20.01.2014 19:56 |

Dakar Rally 2014: Honda Team HRC satisfied with 2014, begins work for 2015. | 20.01.2014 19:46 |

Dakar Rally 2014: GWM/Haval achieves another Top 10 position in Dakar 2014. | 20.01.2014 19:38 |

Dakar Rally 2014: Solid finish for Lucio Alvarez and new Ford Racing team. | 20.01.2014 19:32 |

Dakar Rally 2014: De Villiers and Dabrowski as 4th and 7th best Toyotas. | 19.01.2014 21:46 |

Dakar Rally 2014: 2013 winner Cyril Despres finishing fourth after tough race. | 19.01.2014 21:23 |

Dakar Rally 2014: Ronan Chabot and Gilles Pillot in fast finish in the Dakar. | 19.01.2014 21:14 |

Dakar Rally 2014: Team El Martillo Racing finished in their first Dakar Rally. | 19.01.2014 20:15 |

Dakar Rally 2014: Riwald Dakar Team crosses the finish line in Valparaiso. | 19.01.2014 20:01 |

Dakar Rally 2014 RESULTS: TRUCKS daily and overall after SS12 on Friday | 18.01.2014 00:45 |

Dakar Rally 2014 RESULTS: CARS daily and overall after SS12 on Friday | 18.01.2014 00:43 |

Dakar Rally 2014 RESULTS: BIKES daily and overall after SS12 on Friday | 18.01.2014 00:42 |

Dakar Rally 2014: Orlando Terranova celebrates his first stage win in SS11. | 17.01.2014 02:51 |

Dakar Rally 2014: Strong show from Argentine Alvarez in arid Atacama in SS11. | 17.01.2014 02:21 |

Dakar Rally 2014: Team HRC riders overcome long stage and maintain posis. | 17.01.2014 01:54 |

Dakar Rally 2014: Third stage victory for overall bikes leader Marc Coma. | 17.01.2014 01:47 |

Dakar Rally 2014: No surprises for Speedbrain team in Atacama stage 11. | 17.01.2014 01:41 |

Dakar Rally 2014 RESULTS: TRUCKS daily and overall after SS11 on Thursday | 17.01.2014 01:36 |

Dakar Rally 2014 RESULTS: CARS daily and overall after SS11 on Thursday | 17.01.2014 00:31 |

Dakar Rally 2014 RESULTS: BIKES daily and overall after SS11 on Thursday | 16.01.2014 23:25 |

Dakar Rally 2014: The tenth stage brought gold - Stagewin for Czech Loprais. | 16.01.2014 22:48 |

Dakar Rally 2014: Team Dessoude with the last two cars reached the finish SS10. | 16.01.2014 22:46 |

Dakar Rally 2014: Ford´s Alvarez - "We handled it well and did a good job". | 16.01.2014 22:42 |

Dakar Rally 2014: Carlos Sainz "I'm really disappointed to be out of the race". | 16.01.2014 21:17 |

Dakar Rally 2014: Robby Gordon and his HST Gordini 22nd after Stage 10. | 16.01.2014 20:32 |

Dakar Rally 2014: Great Wall Haval and Lavieille moves up after Stage 10. | 16.01.2014 20:27 |

Dakar Rally 2014: Iveco-pilot Gerard de Rooy still on the lead after SS10. | 16.01.2014 20:00 |

Dakar Rally 2014: Mini´s are leading 1-2-3, second stagewin for Al Attiyah. | 16.01.2014 01:55 |

Dakar Rally 2014 BLOG: Dongfeng Challenge heading forward to Antofagasta. | 16.01.2014 01:54 |

Dakar Rally 2014 RESULTS: TRUCKS daily and overall after SS10 Wednesday | 16.01.2014 00:29 |

Dakar Rally 2014: Spectacular double for Honda - Barreda still second overall. | 15.01.2014 23:40 |

Dakar Rally 2014: Bad luck for Speedbrain - Israel Esquerre out after crash. | 15.01.2014 23:37 |

Dakar Rally 2014: Coma continues to lead the Dakar after SS10 Antofagasta. | 15.01.2014 22:26 |

Dakar Rally 2014 RESULTS: CARS daily and overall after SS10 on Wednesday | 15.01.2014 21:52 |

Dakar Rally 2014 RESULTS: BIKES daily and overall after SS10 on Wednesday | 15.01.2014 21:23 |

Dakar Rally 2014 RESULTS: TRUCKS daily and overall after SS09 on Tuesday | 15.01.2014 01:16 |

Dakar Rally 2014 RESULTS: CARS daily and overall after SS09 on Tuesday | 14.01.2014 23:14 |

Dakar Rally 2014 RESULTS: BIKES daily and overall after SS09 on Tuesday | 14.01.2014 22:33 |

Dakar Rally 2014: Gerard De Rooy 2nd in SS08 with only a little loss of time. | 14.01.2014 22:31 |


















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