Both CR6-Ts in top ten, Baragwanath leads 4x2s
South African rally raid team Century Racing has both its all-new Audi turbo V6 powered CR6-Ts in the 2023 Dakar Rally top ten with only two stages left. Brian Baragwanath and navigator Leonard Cremer lead the rear-wheel drive T1.2 class in seventh overall, with French teammates Mathieu Serradori and notes man Loic Minaudier up to ninth and a close third in class.
South African crew Baragwanath and Cremer endured two frustrating days in 24th Thursday and twelfth on Friday but consolidated their T1.2 4x2 class lead and eighth overall ahead of closest rivals Wi Han and Ma Li’s Hanwei SMG. “We had a good stage but got stuck on the last big dune lost us time on Thursday,” Brian explained. “We got stuck again and lost five minutes in Friday’s first tricky section, and the engine ran a bit hot from there but never lost power. “We fought home through some tricky terrain to learn that some rivals had an even worse day, and that we’re up to seventh with Mattieu now ninth! “Its just 290 km and two days left, so to get home as we are, would be huge!”
Frenchmen Serradori and Minaudier enjoyed two good days aboard their Factory CR6-T, with eighth on Thursday and sixth on Friday. They moved to ninth overall, just minutes behind T1.2 rival Wi Han’s SMG. “We had two good days to climb up from twelfth to ninth overall with both cars in the top ten,” Mathieu pointed out. “We lost a little time with a rear damper issue on Thursday and the race truck with the spare was stuck in the dunes, but Brian helped us repair it at the isolated marathon bivouac. “We also suffered with sluggish throttle response on Friday. “These last two days should be epic – we must fight hard for that T1.2 4x2 class 1-2!”
“That was a brilliant job and a huge relief to get both cars home after one of the most difficult marathon stages in years,” Century Racing team boss Julien Hardy admitted. “Their performance belies the fact that we only shook down both brand new and untested CR6-Ts with unproven engines here in Saudi just before the start.
We’re learning the new cars as we go and dealing with teething issues as they come up. “Mathieu says engine response is poor low down, but we felt that it was just too risky to use anti-lag on this Dakar without much testing. “It could potentially break the turbos with so much second gear in the dunes, so we made the call to not risk it. It is something we will definitely develop in preparation for next year’s Dakar.
Dampers have succumbed to extreme temperatures, possibly beyond 160°C after they were possibly overworked. “We have also had to deal with tyre pressure system and jack challenges; cooling, and engine drive belt, and a few other issues. “All that has made this Dakar into something of a super test session!But both cars are home from the marathon and 12 days racing, which is a big relief for the team. “Best of all, both are well into the top ten overall, and we’re leading and a close third in the rear-drive T1.2 category. “We are hugely proud of that as the tiny privateer team we are, so we are justifiably anxious to get this last two days and 290 km out the way, but bring it on!”
Of the army of privateer Century entries, MotoGP hero Carlos Checa and Marc Terradellas’ Astara CR6 was 27th on Thursday and 38th Friday to sit 23rd overall. Antoine Galland and David Kripal’s ORC CR6 impressed again with 32nd Thursday and 39th on Friday to move up to 31st overall. Lady racer Laia Sanz and Fabrizio Gerini’s Astara CR6 was 35th and 23rd to sit 33rd in the general rankings.
French rookies Yannick and Valérie Panagiotis’ FJ C CR6 were the Thursday stars as they stormed home an excellent 23rd in what was supposed to be their Empty Quarter dune baptism of fire. Trained by Baragwanath on the arts of dune driving in Namibia, they came home ahead of their factory rival, before ending 36th on Friday to sit a respectable 36th overall on debut.
Dutch twins Tim and Tom Coronel continued to swap out their CR6’s driver’s seat to end
25th on both Thursday Friday. They sit back in 45th overall after recovering from a big crash late in the first week. Sergio Vallejo and Mario Gozalez Tome’s similar extreme Dakar adventures however came to an end when they were forced to retire after Stage 10.
Century Racing Factory Team is proudly sponsored by Fortinet, SRT, R53 Suspension, International Race Supplies, AP Racing, ALDO, CEMS Consult, Trollope Mining, ATS Racing Supplies, OMP, Mecad - Solidworks SA, Sadev, Ekoil, Caltex Havoline SA and Houss.
Source Century Racing via Motorsport Media