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DAKAR 2023


by Motorsport Media - 2 January 2023

What: Dakar Prologue  Day 1 Report

Where: Sea Camp, Red Sea, Saudi Arabia

When: Sunday 1 January 2023

Community: International

Baragwanath fights for lead on new car’s maiden outing

Century Racing’s brand new Factory Team CR6-Ts made a sensational debut on a gruelling 367 kilometre 2023 Dakar Rally opening day. Crack South African crew Brian Baragwanath and Leonard Cremer spent most of the day in the podium positions before finishing seventh after earning a penalty. They still took an emphatic two wheel drive class victory.


French crew, Mathieu Serradori and Loic Minaudier had a trouble free run to 17th overall and fourth among the 4x2s. It was a bittersweet day for Century’s privateer army of older specification Corvette V8-powered CR6s with great results balanced by a degree of disaster for some of the crews.


There were few worries for Baragwanath and Cremer, however. “The new car is so impressive!” Brian announced. “Thanks to the team for a superb effort already, but we are home safe and bar two small errors, it was a very good first day. 


“We misjudged how heavy the car is with a full fuel load and I braked too late for a restricted zone early on and we incurred a one minute speed penalty for speeding into the zone, or we’d have been fifth overall today, rather than seventh! “We also made a little navigation error at the end, but Len recovered us like a champ, so no big deal.


“For the rest, we had some fun overtakes, but I wasn't completely on it today. “We also don’t want to show our hand just yet! “The bite on my hand seems to be ok, so call me spider man for this Dakar. “Oh, and Happy New Year!”


“We had a clean run, there is nothing wrong with the car, and I’m still finding my rhythm and getting used to the turbo engine,” Mathieu Serradori admitted. “We also lost a few minutes looking for a waypoint at the end, but I was not pushing hard enough in the first bit. “Still, we had a good clean run, and we are looking forward to advancing from here.”


“Today was a big relief for us here at the Dakar, what a super result to start the race!” Century Racing team boss Julien Hardy concluded.” It’s pretty euphoric, yes – we have been under massive pressure as a team over the last few months and there’s still lots of work to optimise the car. “The Century CR6-T’s potential is undeniable.”


Behind the Factory duo, there were mixed results for the Century privateers. Laia Sanz and Maurizio Gerini  were the best of the clean fuelled Astara entries in 24th, just ahead of Tim and Tom Coronel and Antonie Galland in 26th. David Kripal’s Off Road Concept CR6 was best of Century rookies in a fine 32nd.


They came home ten places clear of a Carlos Checa and Marc Sola Terradellas’s second Astara car, with French rookies Yannick and Valerie Panagiotis 44th. Spanish crew Sergio Vallejo and Mario Gozalez Tome had not completed the stage after dark at the time of writing, but two other teams' opening day proved disastrous.


Spanish duo Oscar Fuertes Aldanon and Diego Vallejo rolled their Astara CR6 heavily after they hit a series of bumps at speed, which kicked the rear high. They were checked in hospital and are apparently OK, but they are out of the race.


It went even worse for Dutch Coronel crew Michel Kremer and Thomas de Bois when their CR6 caught fire and burned to the ground not long after the start. The crew suspects that a fuel leak caused the blaze, which dropped the Century Dakar 2023 fleet to eight cars.


Monday’s Dakar Day 2 brings a challenging 430 km of racing from Sea Camp to Alula, before a 447 km run to Ha’il on Tuesday.

* 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.

Issued on behalf of Century Racing

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