The team’s mechanics and engineers overhauled the Argentine’s Ranger during yesterday’s rest day.
SALTA, ARGENTINA (12 January 2014 ) – Lucio Alvarez and Ronnie Graue continued to climb the order as the second half of the Dakar Rally opened today with one of the most demanding speed tests of the event.
The team’s mechanics and engineers overhauled the Argentine’s Ranger during yesterday’s rest day. Key parts including the gearbox, clutch, driveshafts and the front and rear differentials were replaced ahead of the final seven days of competition.
The work was completed in torrential rain but the weather eased to erase fears the final Argentine stage may have to be shortened for safety reasons. But temperatures were much lower, the thermometer showing 9°C at the start compared with a high of 42°C two days ago.
The test was the second longest of the rally to date and challenged both man and machine. After a rocky opening, the pace increased in the second part, which generated amazing TV images as drivers covered a flat-out blast over a 20km salt flat.
It peaked at almost 4100m, with an average of over 3500m. The high altitude meant cars struggled to ‘breathe’ in the thin air and power outputs dropped by up to 25 per cent as a result.
The second part of the stage was Alvarez’s forte and he passed several cars as he and the Ranger remained strong to the finish.
Lucio Alvarez (308): “It was a difficult stage because we raced at altitude and it was hard for the engine. It was the same for everyone but it’s a funny feeling because the power wasn’t there. It’s easy to think there is a problem, but you know it’s the altitude and everyone else is thinking the same.
Team Ford Racing