The seven soloists
In 2010, the baptism of single place buggies imagined by the late Colin McRae turned into a nightmare: 7 at the start, 2 at the finish! For 2011, the Pro-Dakar team went in search of reliability for a machine that proved its performance level. In hoping to allow its two drivers, Holland's Tim Coronel and former Formula One driver, Argentina's Norberto Fontana, to put in a few strong showings.
"Last year, the car wasn't ready and just finishing each stage was a challenge in itself", confides Tim Coronel. "I had never experienced an adventure like it, very difficult but also quite enjoyable. Everyone thought we were crazy to set off alone, but upon our return home we were treated like heroes because the Dutch like fighters! We have done a lot of work to the buggy to adapt it to the difficulties of the Dakar: 86 things were changed, and then validated during testing in Morocco. Of course, our goal is reasonable: the top 30 overall."
The 2011 buggy is a complete departure from its predecessor: new shocks, new clutch, a new auto-blocking differential for the dunes and new engine mapping for the 140 brake horsepower three-cylinder engine taken from a snowmobile. With the changes made the buggy is now lighter, has a better center of gravity and has drastically improved fuel consumption at 6-litres per 100kms!
Pro-Dakar has entered seven drivers and is counting most on the experienced Tim Coronel, to develop the buggy, but also a few "stars" from Argentinean circuit racing; most notably Norberto Fontana, who competed in four Formula One Grands prix in 1997 and the Spanish adventurer Albert Busch....everyone shares the same goal: take on the constant challenge of associating driving and navigating; a tall order yet essential to score a result.