ALDO Racing Team getting ready for upcoming Dakar rally

With a new vehicle, ALDO Racing Team is entering its final stage off preparation.

Montreal - The Canadian rally-raid ALDO Racing Team is entering its final stage off preparation that will bring the driving team of David Bensadoun and Patrick Beaulé to the starting grid of the 2015 Dakar Rally next January 4th in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Following an early exit in the 2014 Dakar Rally last January, ALDO Racing traded their Desert Warrior 3 prototype for a Fédération Internationale de l'Automoblie (FIA) approved rally-raid Toyota Tacoma Overdrive truck, hand-built by South Africa-based Hallspeed and refitted by Overdrive Racing of Belgium.

The vehicle change produced immediate success for the Bensadoun-Beaulé tandem, which finished fourth overall in their first outing with the recently acquired Toyota at the Mexican 1000 Rally last April.

This year we'll be running an AC system which should drop the cabin temp by 5 to 10 degrees so a 40c day will feel like 30 or 35.

David Bensadoun

Following the last three-day session of testing at the end of August at Mécaglisse Motorsports Complex located in the lower Laurentian Mountains, north of Montréal, the team's mechanics began a complete overall in early September of the Toyota at the YTR Motorsport Shop managed by ALDO's chief mechanic Yvan Turcotte. Aside from thorough check-ups following each day of competition, the team had never entirely stripped the Toyota.

"When we started overhauling the Toyota, I thought that we could be in for a few surprises, but that was not the case," said co-driver Patrick Beaulé who worked intensively in the stripping and rebuilding of the rally truck. "Except for the usual wear of some of the gearbox components, the truck passed the tests with high marks. I cannot even compare it to our pervious Desert Warrior 3, which to my point of view seemed too frail. The Toyota is in the durable category as far as far component wear, but in this sport of extremes, there are no guarantees."

All fixed or moveable parts of the Toyota were meticulously checked before they were changed or remanufactured to each company specs at the shop. More than 200 original parts were ordered to replace the ones proposed by manufacturers involved in the design of the vehicle, and a great quantity of components, not yet numbered, were checked and remanufactured. Once the cab and engine bay was stripped, the team made a thorough check of the tubular chassis and the suspensions looking for cracks.

The V8 is vibrant compared to our previous snoring six-cylinder Desert Warrior engine.

David Bensadoun

The team took a special look at the wishbone suspension components. The A-arms were replaced; the bushings, joints and rods were changed or remanufactured, then tested on the dynamometer. Every inch of the electric cables were also stripped, closely inspected, and then reinstalled.

The sequential gearbox component gears, bearings, front and rear differentials were removed, checked, remanufactured or changed, before being reinstalled. Some of these parts showed signs of strains following the 4,000 kilometres added to the odometer at the Mexican Rally and during the summer runs in Québec, but they were all replaced.

During the fall truck cleanup leading to the great Dakar Rally event, the ALDO team took the time to improve on the comfort of the driving team. The first improvement is a hand throttle. Not quite like a cruise control system, but an alternate throttle to the foot accelerator that will alleviate the stress on the driver's right leg during the Dakar liaisons.

"Yvan and Patrick gave me an amazing gift: A hand throttle," said ALDO Team driver David Bensadoun. "What more can a man with bad knees ask for? The hand throttle is mounted on the hand brake (used for hairpin turns) and will be used during liaisons. It will allow me to rest my right knee. I injured it while snowboarding and then again on my enduro bike, this time tearing my ACL. So the hand throttle will really help. It also means Pat can reach the gas and make us go faster when I'm too slow!"

The team also installed two independent air conditioning systems. The compressor of the main system was installed at the rear of the transmission to avoid breakdowns from road hazards. The second unit will be powered by two independent 12-volt electric motors.

"The heat at the Dakar is a huge challenge and anything we can do to cool down will help our performance," continued David. "This year we'll be running an AC system which should drop the cabin temp by 5 to 10 degrees so a 40c day will feel like 30 or 35. Our cabin has no insulation and is not sealed so AC systems don't work well but it will give us a cool blast to our faces. We've also rigged an AC tube which we can shove into our race suits for a bit of cooling effect!"

As for the engine, it is still under warranty, and the team only had to do the recommended upkeep such as oil and fluid changes, filters and drive belts and other components maintenance of the power plant.

"The engine is so reliable that it exceeds our expectations. The V8 is vibrant compared to our previous snoring six-cylinder Desert Warrior engine. According to David, the sequential transmission is magical and there is no way to compare the road handling of the Toyota. The only mechanical problem we have encountered so far was an alternator failure in Mexico," concluded Patrick Beaulé.

ALDO Racing


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About this article
Series Dakar
Event Dakar
Article type Preview