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DAKAR 2023


by Motorsport Media - 3 January 2023

What: Dakar Day 3 Report

Where: Al'Ula, Saudi Arabia

When: Tuesday 3 January 2023

Community: International

Both cars in Dakar top 6 after brutal Day 3

Little South African Century Racing has enjoyed a giant killing start to Dakar 2023. After three days of racing, both of Century’s factory cars sit ahead of most of the grandee team favourites in the overall top six of the car ranking. South African Factory duo Brian Baragwanath and Leonard Cremer moved up to fifth overall on Tuesday, a short head clear of French teammates, Mathieu Serradori and Loic Minaudier in their two brand new CR6-T racers.


The crews enjoyed fluctuating fortunes over the past two days. Baragwanath and Cremer ended 18th on a difficult Monday after fighting back through the field, before a speeding penalty dropped them back, but they were still classified ninth overall. “We had 400 km of rocks on Monday,” Baragwanath reported. “But we were able to hang with some really fast guys, so we are very happy with the car. 


“Unfortunately, we lost half an hour when the engine ran hot Monday morning, and we had to stop to bleed it. “That used up all of our water, but fortunately the temperature dropped so we could push again. “We also had a puncture and made a rookie error by accelerating before the end of a controlled zone, which cost us another 7 minutes in a penalty.”


Brian and Leonard however enjoyed a brilliant Day 3 on Tuesday, coming home sixth to move up to fifth overall. “Today was rock and roll in the camel grass between the giant boulders,” Baragwanath elaborated. “It was a nice clean stage; we made no mistakes and incurred no penalties for a change. “Pity we stopped early, as we’d just started having fun when the weather came in. “Luckily we still have 11 stages to party, so let's behave!”


Things went the other way around for Frenchmen Mathieu Serradori and Loic Minaudier in the second factory Century. They ended a fine fourth on Monday to move up to third overall. However, like the rest of Monday’s car top ten, they struggled with pace as they ran further up the field on Tuesday. The French pair came home 20th to slip back to sixth overall in a stunning team showing


“Monday’s complicated stage was mainly over tight, rocky tracks, which demanded a certain finesse of driving,” Serradori pointed out. “Still, we fought hard and Loic was wonderful on the notes, so we were delighted with fourth on the day. “Our overall podium also proves that we can fight with the big factory teams!


“Tuesday was more difficult, but we were not alone as all the front guys struggled. “We also used both our spare wheels early in the day, so had to take it very easy most of the day and just put our heads down and kept out of trouble to keep right in there overall. “Special thanks to our brilliant team, who work so late every night to allow us to shine out there the next day. “The world is now watching us, so the pressure is on and its only stage 3. “We still have a long way to go, but we have had a very encouraging run so far.”


“We were scratching our heads as to why Brian's car got hot on Monday, but these teething problems are to be expected with such a new product,” team principal Julien Hardy pondered. “Sunday was perfect, and on Monday the problem started and stopped for no apparent reason. “We tried a few tweaks and did some tests on the open section this morning, so we were fairly confident that both cars would run well. “They did just that in a splendid team showing today!


“We also changed Mathieu’s car to the shorter third gear ratio that Brian tried on Monday, as he was very happy with that. “It’s still a work in progress and we are learning the new cars as we go. “So to have both crews in the top six after three difficult days is a pretty good omen!”


Best of the army of Corvette V8 powered privateer Century CR6s were Dutch twins Tim and Tom Coronel, who are sharing driving and navigation duties. Tom drove home in 28th on Sunday before Tim took the wheel to bring it home 20th on Monday. Tom then finished 22nd on Tuesday which sees them up to 20th overall.


Former Moto GP star Carlos Checa and Marc Terradellas ended 24th on both Sunday and Monday to run 24th overall in their clean-fuelled Astara Century CR6 V8. Teammates, lady Dakar bike legend Laia Sanz and Fabrizio Gerini had a tough Monday in their Astara CR6, but they bounced back to finish 30th on Tuesday and sit 41st overall.


French rookie crew Yannick and Valérie Panagiotis’ FJ CR6 came home 42nd on Monday and they were still running in a virtual 47th overall at the time of writing. Sergio Vallejo and Mario Gozalez Tome were not far behind them in 52nd in their CR6, while Antoine Galland and Yannick Demay’s ORC version was running 56th. 


Dakar continues into two more monster stages around Ha’il in the Saudi Arabian Desert on Wednesday and Thursday. And that’s the next two days of twelve still to come. Sounds perfect for Century Racing’s giant killing CR6-Ts!

* 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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