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From the Silk Road to the Marius Berliet Automobile Foundation.

Stefano Chmielewski, CEO of Renault Trucks, has handed Paul Berliet the keys of a Kerax, veteran of several editions of the Dakar Rally and the Silk Road run. The Kerax which arrived at the Marius Berliet Automobile Foundation (Lyon) on April 11th was manufactured at Renault Trucks’ Villaverde plant in Spain in 1996. This vehicle, from a range designed for the construction industry, was initially a test vehicle in the development of Keraxes for the Dakar Rally.

To this end, it was transformed at Renault Trucks’ vehicle adaptation centre in Bourg-en-Bresse. Vehicle dynamics and suspensions in particular were upgraded and adapted to the specific demands of Africa’s tricky terrain and dunes. Having been used as a "mobile, living laboratory", it returned quietly to France for a few demonstrations for customers.

It was only in 2003 that it came back into service and, after a thorough upgrade, was once again on the African trail, but this time for real. Bearing the number 666 in dashing chrome yellow livery, it provided assistance to some 20 Kerax trucks participating in the famous Dakar Rally for 2 consecutive years. Driven by Michel Michaud in 2003 and Jean-Paul Girard in 2004, it completed the 10,000 km race without any problem in either case.?

But its adventures didn’t stop there. In 2005 it was the sole reconnaissance truck for the Silk Road run, a race between Lyon and Beijing organised by Renault Trucks. After over 20,000 km at the hands of three well-known drivers, René Metge, John-Bernard Vieux and Christian Haller, they reported only happy memories of the vehicle. Their trip across 5 deserts paved the way for the teams of the 6 Keraxes and 2 Sherpas who followed in their wake. And with all the success that has been so well documented.

The engine in the Kerax, an 11-litre, 385 hp Renault MIDR, never wavered and those on board never complained. Renault Trucks has, so far, manufactured nearly 60,000 Keraxes. The company has now given one of them pride of place at the Berliet Automobile Foundation, amongst predecessors that have followed the trails of Africa and further afield.

2007/04/24 | 12:56 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Renault Trucks

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