Robb Pritchard, Dakar correspondent
Dakar fans might still be reeling from the decision of Volkswagen to turn their attention away from the world's longest and toughest motorsport event, but next year's addition will see a new manufacturer step up into the dusty theater of dreams and nightmares.
The Vikings are readying themselves for combat and conquest in foreign lands once more as Volvo gear up to tale centre stage with the all-new Team Pewano XC60 RR.
Team founder Pelle Wallenthiem tragically lost his life to illness in June but the team he put together is continuing to develop the car and after their latest test are bathed in an aura of positivity.
Even in the first test we were able to run the XC60 at full speed, giving it our best!
“The holiday season is in all its glory, but not for Pewano,” the team reported. “We can now reveal that several successful tests have been conducted over the summer and to our delight, the superlatives have been many. In fact the reality outperforms even our highest expectations.”
“Initially our intentions for the first days of testing were to slowly roll across our quarry testing area, but we discovered that such precautions were not needed for the PEWANO XC60 RR. Even in the first test we were able to run the XC60 at full speed, giving it our best! It's an unbeatable feeling for everyone in the team.”
As soon as they realized that the car performed so well they invited Mats Karlsson, a former Swedish rally champion and now one of the top rally engineers, to run a number of tests. Karlsson replied afterwards that he has never driven a car that has been delivered directly from the workshop that drives so well.
This also means that the work on chassis-setup and engine dynamics has been able to get started immediately. After some more testing off-road, we are now planning for a classic rally route. Despite only being tested and developed for a short time the XC60 has already shown it can perform to a high standard. “As you know, the ambitions are set high - and it’s with great delight we can say that the results after the first tests did not show anything but success! We are delighted to be on the go and it’s with eager anticipation we will continue to test, refine and improve!”
A new team with a new car from a new manufacturer turning a launch into a triumph in the Dakar. It hasn't happened often over the years, yet it has been done before and as the Swedes surely know what a challenge is before them and maybe teams like X-Raid and G-Force might have to keep a look out for the Vikings... although I don't know if the FIA sanctions horned helmets these days...