No limits: An Overview of Foton Motors at Dakar Rally

Author: Source: Date:2014-12-9 15:34:36 Hots:680 Tags:

Fourteen days – spanning 9,374 kilometers with 13 special stages and 5 marathon stages, 650 drivers and 407 vehicles traveled from Argentina to Chile, crossing vast deserts and tumultuous gorges and bringing huge roars from car engines to ten desolate landscapes, officially marked 2014 as another exciting and dynamic race in Dakar history. Foton joined up with Team China and entered this year’s challenge for the first time. This year’s challenge has been both a boon and a bust for Foton.

San Juan to Chilecito, a 24-Hour Test of Endurance

The 657 kilometer-long special stage from San Juan to Chilecito is the longest stretch of road in a Dakar Rally since 2005. In order to complete the tribulations within this stretch of racing, drivers had to employ special tactics to overcome difficult obstacles, such as rivers and gorges.

In this long and arduous special stage, experience is the key to determining the proper route to take. Three-time Dakar Rally veteran ALVARO CHICHARRO, driving Foton truck #411, chose to employ a conservative driving strategy, while utilizing his Foton Tunland to its fullest advantage so that the team could complete this leg of the race.
After a taxing 24-hour period of continuous driving, ALVARO decided to take his truck off of the main pathway. Due to the treacherous, off-road terrain, Foton Truck #411 had replaced three of its truck’s spare tires, had suffered collision damage on both the right and left suspensions, and had worn out its calipers completely. Despite this, the chassis remained intact.

Chilecito to Tucuman: The Weather Heats Up to 60 Degrees Celcius

January is the hottest month of the year in South America. The path from Chilecito to Tucuman passes through desert, where temperatures exceed 60 degrees. The heat is so intense that it’s impossible to set foot on the desert surface without being burned; similarly, vehicle tires may not be touched using bare hands alone. Touching almost any part of the vehicle exposed to desert heat would be like touching a burning stove. Vehicles are not fitted with air conditioning in order to sacrifice comfort for power; and, as a result, drivers need to wear fire-resistant clothing and helmets. Harsh climate is the biggest challenge that drivers face in the race, as driver’s vehicles can easily burst into flames due to the extreme temperatures.

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After three straight days of driving through baking desert heat and an intense racing schedule that only allowed for a few hours of sleep in the early morning hours before each race, two Foton drivers emerged from their vehicle looking much more relaxed than most would have expected, commenting that “Even though we were driving in scorching-hot weather with a radiator that was cooling rather slowly, overall today was very successful and we didn’t experience any major problems.”

From Salta to Calama, 812 Kilometers of ‘Pursuit’ Racing

After a short day of rest, the race was half completed, and the competition was turning fierce. From Salta in Argentina to Calama in Chile – a total of 812 kilometers, the Dakar Rally entered its second segment in the Andes Mountains. High altitude brings along a whole different level of risk to drivers and vehicles. When vehicles reach high altitudes of 1,000 meters or more above sea level, engines tend to lose approximately 10% of their functionality. Drivers will also be affected by altitude sickness, but Foton team’s Chilean team member and Tunland driver was largely unaffected and even displayed greater skill and courage than before, taking full advantage of his familiarity of his native Chile. After going through the challenging high-altitude ‘Pursuit’Race, Foton Team’s performance and ranking made a marked improvement.

Regretfully, because it was the team’s first time participating in the Rally as well as the team’s unfamiliarity with some of its regulations, Foton team’s participation ended toward the end of the race when the repair truck entered the race path and broke one of the Dakar Rally’s foremost rules. Regardless, having been through a challenging race that covered scorching desert and high mountain paths, Foton team’s debut at the Dakar Rally embodied the race’s key principles of persistence and courage. For a rising brand like Foton, partaking in one of the foremost automotive events and competing against an international level of excellence is an amazing breakthrough. The chief editor for the prominent racing website Zheng Xiang commented that seeing Foton trucks’ presence on the starting line was “A small step for this race’s opening ceremony and a big step for Foton Motors.”

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