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Two more SA bakkie teams for Dakar Rally

The presence of South African teams with South African built vehicles in next year's Dakar Rally grew again last week.

The experienced team of Thomas Rundle and Juan Mohr announced they will tackle the world’s toughest motorsport event in a privateer Toyota Hilux. The pair have bought the Hilux that took works Castrol Toyota crew Duncan Vos and Rob Howie to overall victory in last year’s South African off road racing championship.

It will be Rundle and Mohr’s first attempt in the Dakar. They earned a free entry valued at around R400 000 when they won the Dakar Challenge, part of the Toyota 1 000 Desert Race, in June.

TESTING TIMES: The Ford Racing Ranger has undergone a series of  tough tests in Namibia, in preparation for next year's Dakar Rally.

TESTING TIMES: The Ford Racing Ranger has undergone a series of tough tests in Namibia, in preparation for next year’s Dakar Rally.

Rundle has spent time in the Namib Desert near Walvis Bay under the tuition of desert driving expert Don Nieuwoudt of West Coast 4×4 and also recently accompanied Toyota Motorsport to the Namibian dunes for more experience.

Just back from a similar test session in Namibia is Team Ford Racing South Africa. They spent nine days testing near Walvis Bay with local crew Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst joined by customer team Argentinian driver Lucio Alvarez and co-driver Ronnie Graue.

The test encompassed a complete set-up of their Dakar-specification 5,0-litre V8 Ford Ranger, and featured almost the entire local and international Ford Racing crew including team management, drivers and navigators, race engineers and mechanics. An exhaustive schedule was put together for the Namibia test with one of the main priorities being to set up the suspension and dampers on the Team Ford Racing Ranger.

“We gave BOS, our suspension partners in France, all the dimensions of the vehicle, the weights, wheel travel and specifications and they built the dampers and tested them on a suspension dyno according to those requirements,” said team manager Nei lWoolridge.

“However, the final set-up had to be done on the car and we had two of their technicians with us during the Namibia test to upgrade the dampers to the latest specification and fine-tune the settings.”

The second objective was to run the 5,0-litre V8 engine used in the Ranger with a 36 mm restrictor and Avgas as used on Dakar. The SA-spec Ranger, as campaigned in the local Donaldson Cross Country Championship, uses a 35 mm restrictor and normal unleaded fuel.

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