How the Dakar wants to go green

Launched last year, the ‘DakarFuture’ program aims to ensure that all vehicles have low emissions by 2030. A great challenge that manufacturers, including Audi, have already initiated.

Admittedly, the quest for the title ended far too early for Audi this year. From the 1time Stage, Stéphane Peterhansel’s RS Q e-tron was no longer moving, the fault of the broken rear triangle. The next day, Carlos Sainz got lost and left Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota) and Sébastien Loeb (BRX) to explain themselves at the top of the general classification. However, at no time is the hybrid technology developed by Audi questioned. It is the general reliability of the car that is in question, not its new engine. This was also evident since the brand offered its first stage victories thanks to Carlos Sainz (3estage), Matthias Ekstrom (8e), Stéphane Peterhansel (10e). Above all, it is accumulating a lot of data in order to be more competitive – and therefore more reliable – from next year.

Gaussin, this intriguing French project

Audi is therefore entering a new era, encouraged by ASO. Last year, in Neom, the organizer of the Dakar launched the ‘Dakar Future’ program so that by 2030 all competitors will have low-emission vehicles by 2030. And the German manufacturer is not the only one actively working on it. During this edition, two trucks run on diesel and electric (the Dutch Rewald and the Japanese Hino) and some teams (including BRX and GCK) use bio-fuels.

In addition, a French company based near the bivouac, Gaussin presented one of the bivouac’s most ambitious projects: the H2 Racing Truck. The heavy vehicle is powered by 4 fuel cells developing 600 kW. The power, speed and ability of the truck to pass is well established. The accumulation of data during the tests should help to reduce its size, improve its center of gravity and allow it to enter the race from next year. “We wanted to be quick on the market,” assures Jean-Claude Bailly, CEO of Gaussin. We cannot say to ourselves that hydrogen is the future and wait three or four years before getting started. The important thing is to do « 

A mess of projects

They are not the only ones to develop without counting their prototype with a view to participating in the Dakar. Powered only by hydrogen, the GenZ car could be on track as early as next year. This project is supported by adventurer Mike Horn and the five-time motorcycle winner Cyril Despres will also be a car. For its part, GCK Motorsport, a structure represented by the former skier and driver Gherlain Chicherit, is working to develop « the first hydrogen rally-raid competition car equipped with a fuel cell ». 100% electric projects are also multiplying, with the buggy of the Spaniards of EcoPower Automotive or the trucks of Koolen Industries and Gerard De Rooy, Dutch legend of the rally-raid truck.

David Castera, the Dakar boss, is enthusiastic: “our very ambitious project is becoming real. It’s time for a new era ”. In the bivouac, amateurs oscillate between skepticism – fearing an explosion in costs in the long term – and optimism. In the evening, one of them explains to us: “the challenge is that our children can have the same passion as us without having a negative impact on the planet. This green turn is a necessity everywhere and, as a pilot, we must think about playing our full part. « 

Photo: Icon Sport

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