- Alfa Romeo
- Aston Martin
- Land Rover
The rally started back in 1978 and was originally called the Paris-Dakar rally due to its geographic location. However, due to safety concerns, the event was moved to South America in 2009, where it has remained to this day. The event is now simply called the Dakar rally, and for the 2012 event will cover 8000-kilometers (4968-miles). The route for the 2012 event will start from the Atlantic coast in Argentina to across South America and ending the event in Peru.
In Finland, rally champion Juha Kankkunen has cracked the 200-mph barrier on ice in a Bentley Supersports, setting a new world speed record on ice.
Atop the frozen Baltic Sea at temperatures of minus 30 degrees, he drove the AWD, W12-engined, biofuel-powered Bentley Continental Supersports convertible to a record 205.48 mph, which bested his own previous world record of 199.83 mph set at the same location in 2007.
“The last time, I narrowly missed the magical 200 mph mark in a Continental GT,” he said. “When I heard about the Supersports I was determined to go record breaking again with the Bentley Boys.”
One of the goals of the British/Finnish team was to keep the car as stock as possible: modifications included a roll cage, low-resistance Pirelli winter tires, front and rear spoilers, and a bumper-mounted parachute. Juha Kankkunen fought crosswinds and sudden blizzards on the 10-mile track, atop 27 inches of ice, to complete two runs in opposite directions. The speed was verified by the Guinness Book of World Records.
Of course, Kankkunen is no stranger to racing in extreme conditions. Since he started rallying in 1978, he has over 23 World Rally victories under his belt, been crowned World Champion four times, and won the Dakar Rally outright in 1988. Finland breeds rally champions, so the saying goes, and off the coast of Finland Kankkunen seemed within his element.
Bentley is planning a limited edition 100-car run of the Supersports to reflect this achievement, in case well-heeled buyers want to tackle the record on their own.
Hit the jump to read the official press release.
The Dakar rally doesn’t get a lot of love in North America, but some of the machinery used in it is extremely badass, and the Volkswagen Race Touraeg 3 is no exception.
Looking like a Touraeg’s homicidal cousin, the Race Touraeg 3 is build for racing on sand dunes and features the appropriate jacked-up bodywork, special BF Goodrich tires and a 2.5L TDI engine making 296 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. The Race Touraeg can sprint to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds, not bad for a massive truck.
With 10,000 km of testing behind it, the Race Touraeg 3 should be competent enough to give Volkswagen yet another Dakar title in 2011.
Gallery: Volkswagen Race Touraeg
Hit the jump to read the official press release
With the demise of Mitsubishi’s Dakar rally program, Volkswagen has stepped in to fill the void left by the iconic Pajero rally truck. The Race Touraeg has performed admirably, but Volkswagen driver Carlos Sainz demanded that the Race Touraeg 3 be a significant step forward from previous iterations.
While the Race Touraeg 2 was mechanically sound, the third generation car will sport serious improvements to the aerodynamics. Spy photos taken in the Alps show the car looking downright mean when devoid of any sponsorship liveries, but we’re at a loss to explain what any of the aesthetic details also double as aerodynamics aides.
The Race Touraeg 3 is expected to make its competition debut in the Silk Way Rally in Russia starting in September, 2010, after which it will enter the Dakar rally in January.
Hit the jump to see the full press release
“Is that hashish in your race suit, or are you happy to see us?” was probably what Spanish police said to drug smugglers at the helm of a fake Dakar rally truck. The graphics-laden and off-road prepared truck had blended in with support trucks along an official rally route, in hope of delivering its load to the Spanish island of Ibiza in time for the summer party season.
Just what did police find? More than 1,760 lbs (800 kg) of cocaine, 15,000 ecstasy pills, marijuana, guns, and $64,000 U.S. in cash.
“The vehicle had been totally transformed to adapt it to its supposed participation in the competition as a support truck, with publicity and logos of the event painted on its side,” read a police statement.
Its drivers were fully kitted out in race suits, with official-looking route maps and race documents to hide their motives. In total, seven suspects have been arrested, all from Spain.
Since we have no footage of the criminals in action, after the jump we’ve placed a video of a Kamaz Dakar truck hooning in the snow with ex-F1 driver David Coulthard at the wheel.
*Note: the above image is of a Dakar support truck, not the actual one used in the case.
As a brand, Hummer’s time in the spotlight is pretty much over, although if there is something that can save the brand it might be a core group of enthusiasts and a strong motorsports background. While Hummers are best known for being excessive street machines, unlike a lot of SUVs, they are actually incredibly capable off-roaders.
Citing the global financial crisis, Mitsubishi Motors has just announced that it will pull out of all cross-country rally races for 2009, including the Dakar Rally. In a statement the company said that, “The sudden deterioration of the global economy made it necessary for the company to focus its resources more tightly.”
The news comes just after Mitsubishi announced it expects to post a 60 billion yen ($674 million) loss for the past fiscal year.
The move away from Dakar is particularly shocking considering the company’s strong presence in the event and its winning history. In 26 entries Mitsubishi has won the Dakar Rally 12 times , including seven consecutive victories from 2001-07.
Involvement in rally racing has also been a major part of Mitsubishi’s engineering and marketing efforts, with this grueling form of motorsports proving to be a valuable format for developing and testing new technologies (particularly 4WD and AWD technologies) – something that Mitsubishi often relies on in it’s advertising efforts.
Mitsubishi now joins the growing ranks of auto manufacturers that have pulled from motorsports over the past few months. Recently both Subaru and Suzuki pulled out of the World Rally Championship, Honda left Formula 1 and Audi announced it would not be competing in the American Le Mans Series.
Official release after the jump: