The Bio-Ritmo® \ MAN Team is one Portuguese racing team, lead by Elisabete Jacinto. Together with José Marques and Marco Cochinho race their MAN TGS truck in several desert rallies around the world. After some participations in the Dakar Rally the team decided to try new challenges and in the latest few years they focused their attention once again in Africa and they are now a regular presence in the Africa Eco Race at the beginning of each year.
About Elisabete Jacinto:
Elisabete Jacinto challenged a men’s world for several years while taking part in the most difficult motocross competitions for motorbikes all over the world. However, for this geography teacher who only at 24 learnt how to ride a two wheel vehicle (and planning nothing more than to use it in everyday life) her main challenge has always been herself, since she believes will-power and tenacity are enough to remove all barriers.
And that was her motto to overcome every difficulty and not only becoming the first Portuguese woman to dare facing the mythical Paris Dakar on a motorcycle but also heroically reaching the end of the race and, above all, being the first among women, when some of these had enormous feats in their résumés and were part of professional teams.
Motorcycles were succeeded by cars and again she won international competitions among women.
However, great challenges are still welcome by Elisabete Jacinto’s internationally recognized tenacity and, three months after obtaining her driving license for trucks, she was at the starting point for the 25th edition of Dakar (2003) driving a lorry, the sort of vehicle which has a fantastic competitive space in the African rally but from which women kept away for many years.
Then, in 2004, Elisabete becomes not only one of the first women to finish the Paris-Dakar rally at the steering wheel of a lorry but also the first woman to actually winning a special interim classification in the category during Rallye Optic Tunisie 2000.
Since then she has been permanently working to progress at the levels of driving, technically preparing her truck and organizing a team of which she is very proud. About 40% of her truck’s technical preparation is at present made in Portugal.
Though her experience in competitions has also had several particularly difficult moments, Elisabete does not throw the towel and she proceeds to the top in general classification at all the different races she enters.
About the MAN TGS:
This is a vehicle which was originally planned for transporting goods; it has 18 tonnes gross weight, and it is particularly adapted to cross-country situations such as work in quarries, building and military logistics.
It was adapted to competition by German builder MAN, and presented as a prototype at the 2007 Dakar.
With permanent four-wheel driving, its engine has six cylinders in line, with 12 419cc. Its power is around 550 horsepower at 1900 rpm, and its binary, of 2500 Nm from 1200 rpm to 1800 rpm. It has electronic injection of Common-rail type. Refrigerated with water, it has an air radiator of significant size, therefore permitting good cooling of the entered air. Its gear box is of ZF brand, with eight exchanges and eight half exchanges, with the change of H by lever. Its autonomy varies according to the sort of ground, but is limited by the presence of two diesel tanks, each with a capacity for 420 litres.
It is equipped with Michelin tyres, and their pressure is controlled by a system of automatic filling commanded from inside the cabin.
When ready for a race, this truck weighs approximately ten thousand six hundred kilos, with about 60% of these concentrated at the front. This difference in weight is compensated by a good suspension system made up of parabolic springs with three sheets and a set of two shock-absorbers by wheel from APV brand. These shock-absorbers were developed by Rui Moreira, with the aim to resist to occasional very high tension, and they have shafts, tops and caps capable to withstand the sudden sideways movements which may occur at the wheels axle. Though they are not industrially produced, they include technical aspects which are innovative and the team is experimenting them. Another feature they have is that they are entirely made in Portugal.
The truck has now an aspect more suited for the sport because it acquired a cargo box, also made in Portugal, by Fábrica de Carroçarias Sabino. It was planned by Tiago Girão (industrial designer) and João Sabino (mechanical engineer), who worked as a team, though each one in his speciality, bearing in mind that the main purpose was to obtain better aerodynamic results than with the original design, but considering some irreverence in relation to the image given by a conventional cargo box. It was built with materials of high mechanical performance, and the result was a lighter structure than usual. At the building level, high-tech production systems were used, of which one may mention CAD/CAM, application of high performing structural tapes and laser cut for many of the constitutive parts. Inside, it carries spare tyres, tools, all sorts of spare parts to solve any mechanical problem that may arise during a stage of the race.
The weight distribution and the high centre of gravity will make it more difficult to drive, namely over dunes, but the great engine capacity is bound to minimize that fact.
In 2015 the MAN TGS truck got a important evolution and was equiped with shock absorbers Reiger and a new cabin
The team installed a new cabin, with the security arch consolidated to it, which led to huge alterations of the existing equipment inside it. Thus, the original dashboard was replaced by carbon fiber drawn by the team itself based on its needs.
The original steering column was replaced by a competition direction which allows the pilot to have a greater precision while driving in winding tracks. This column was complemented by the installation of a steering shock absorber to which was conceived a new supporting structure, since the previous attempts weren’t effective.
The MAN TGS was also equipped with new chassis and cabin shock absorbers and it was designed and built a new structure for the cabin dampers.
"To compete in a truck it is not only the driving skills that count. It demands that the team develops all technical aspects! It was a great challenge to carry out all these changes and I confess that it gave us many headaches. However, it is still gratifying to realize that the MAN has an increasingly personal nature and that we can make it more competitive," said Elisabete Jacinto.
Find more about the team here: http://www.elisabetejacinto.com/en/category/equipa/