PS Laser Racing Team excited about 2010 Dakar
Excitement is building as South Africa's Dakar legend, Alfie Cox, and his German co-pilot and team-owner, Jurgen Schroder, spent their last weekend at home before departing for Buenos Aires in Argentina, where they will meet up with their technical team and their PS Laser Racing Team Navara when they join the fraternity for the start of the 2010 Argentine Chile Dakar Rally.
Held in South America for the second time, the 32nd Dakar Rally will definitely live up to the standards set in Africa as the most gruelling motorsport event in the world. Spending five days in the Atacama Desert, renowned to be the driest desert on the globe, is enough to destroy man and machine.
With snow falling and bitterly cold conditions experienced in Europe, Alfie Cox probably has an advatage, being used to the heat and humidity of Kwa- Zulu Natal, making the climate quite similar to that of Argentina and Chile. "If you are not used to the intense heat, it drains your energy and leaves you completely exhausted, We made provision for Jurgen, to prevent heat fatigue with the major change in temperatures from Europe" remarked Cox.
Final preparations in getting the last odds and ends ready, doing the last bits of fitness training and a number of media interviews kept the two team- mates focussed on the task at hand over the past few weeks. The mental preparation is becoming as important as the physical strength, getting the mind ready to put yourself through 15 days of sheer energy sapping competitive driving and navigation.
This is the team's second Dakar. In 2009 they raced and finished the first event in South America, competing in a two-wheel drive Buggy, an experience that they would never forget. It tested an old friendship to the extreme and ultimately proved the mental and emotional strength that both these guys have.
As part of their shake-off, testing and getting to know their new car, Cox and Schroder raced in the Carnival City 400 and the Toyota Dealer 400 events with their new Navara, built on the well proven Dakar specification that Glyn Hall developed in Midrand. Similar machines finished 4th and 5th in the 2009 event. "I am very happy with the car. Racing in the Dakar is very different to racing a local 400km national event. Here you must make the car last for one day, there you do it sixteen times on cesecutive days. The car is a great piece of engineering, exciting to drive and a proven concept that gives one immense confidence in being able to finish the Dakar," remarked Cox
He explained about the 2010 event: "It is going to be a total different race to last year. I finished 10th overall in 2007 with the X3, my first event in a car, and now we have an immensely competitive machine, so we will be in the thick of things this year."
The two main manufacturers in this year's event are VW and BMW. Having won it for the first time in 2009, VW is a lot more detail inclined this year, because they want to make it two in row and South Africa's Giniel de Villiers is hungry for his second top step of the podium. Interesting that both the South African drivers competing in the event have German co- drivers reading out notes from a French roadbook, De Villiers has former KTM motorcyclist Dirk von Zitzewitz in the co-driver seat of the Touareg. With 5 Touaregs racing and a fully self-sufficient support organisation VW must be the outright favourites in the 2010 event.
BMW has bought the services of multiple bike and car winner Stephane Peterhansel (France) and one-time bike winner Nani Roma (Spain).
However, Robby Gordon, a former NASCAR driver and somewhat mad Hummer off- road driver of late, is determined to again see a podium finish like he did this year when he finished behind the top two VW's. For the 2010 race he is joined in the team by former KTM biker, Cox' teammate then, Carlo de Gavardo (Chile) with a second Hummer. De Gavardo raced a SMG Buggy in the 2009 event, like that of Cox and Schroder.
Although Mitsubishi withdrew from the sport, five Lancers will compete in the hands of Miguel Barbosa (Portugal), Guilherme Spinelli (Brasil), Orlando Terranova (Argentina), Carlos Sousa (Portugal) and team-owner Nicolas Mislin (France). Mislin not only bought all the cars from Mitsubishi Racing, but also acquired the entire team of technicians and engineers. He is very happy with the work done and looks forward to the 2010 event. Although Mitsubishi did have any success in last year's event, the JMB Stradale Off Road Team is definitely an eager force to be reckoned with.
Gregoire de Mevius (Belgium) and Jean-Marc Fortin (Belgium), co-owners of Team Overdrive in Belgium, have raced in numerous WRC and Dakar Rallies. Fortin, navigated for Krzysztof Holowczyc (Poland) in the 2009 event where they achieved a fifth place overall behind their team-mates, the adventurer/entrepreneur Ivar Erik Tollefsen (Norway) and Quin Evans (UK). Currently the official entry list for the 2010 Dakar still shows Holowczyc / Fortin, Cox / Schroder, and Mironenko (Russia) / Lebedev (Russia) entered as the three Nissan Overdrive cars.
With Nissan SA withdrawing and closing down their racing facilities this has changed and the Cox / Schroder team was left out in the cold, having to buy the car, and rent vehicles for support. Glyn Hall (UK born SA based), the mastermind behind the Navaras, will supply the technicians to service and support the car, whilst now branded the PS Laser Racing Team.
There are five Nissans entered in the race, having finished in the top 5 this year, question remains, can this privateer outfit harm the major big- budget teams again?
Cox and Schroder are very excited about the event, starting in Buenos Aires next Friday (1 Jan 2010).
-credit: ps lrt