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DAKAR 2023


by Motorsport Media - 13 January 2023

What: Dakar Day 14 & Final  Report

Where: Damman, Saudi Arabia

When: Monday 16 January 2023

Community: International

Cruel Dakar grabs defeat from the jaws of a Century victory

South African Century Racing somehow dragged both its Factory CR6-T racecars to the finish of the 2023 Dakar Rally after catastrophic final two days which quite literally snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. The team however fought back to see both crews finish the gruelling race after biblical series of events threw more than one late spanner in the works. 


South African Century Factory duo Brian Baragwanath and navigator Leonard Cremer held a comfortable T1.2 4x2 class lead in seventh overall going into the penultimate morning. They had led the class for most of the way, only for the slightest of misjudgement to see them take flight and roll their CR6-T over early on Saturday.


“We were scanning 500 meters ahead to figure out what line to use to cross a massive dune coming up and we did not see the 4-metre-deep dune valley until it was too late,” Baragwanath confessed. “I was two seconds late on the brakes and we took off before making a heavy landing on the nose. “That bent the tubes and crushed the radiator and fans, and some heavy repairs were required. 


“There was no way we could fix it there, so we waited for our service truck and took the penalties as they towed us straight out of the stage. “We had to be towed through a biblical storm and the bivouac was a mud bath when we arrived, but the team did an almighty job to repair the car for Sunday’s final stage, and we were able to make the start.”


With Baragwanath tumbling down the stage order, Frenchmen Mathieu Serradori and navigator Loic Minaudier took up the Century Racing charge. Despite getting stuck at the beginning and later feeling ill in the car, Mathieu forged ahead and closed down his deficit to only 2 minutes and 30 seconds behind new T1.2 4x2 class leader Han Wei by the finish. But Century’s Lady Luck was still in a bad very mood.


“We felt the car was a bit off in the soft stuff, but still had a strong stage,” Mathieu reported. “Then the oil pressure dropped on the road section, just as it started hailing and raining. “Our rival Han wei generously towed us home and we were in for a long night as they worked on both cars in atrocious conditions in the new bivouac.”


“The racing gods were not smiling on us in the end” team boss Julien Hardy confessed. “It was another hard night for the team as we worked to repair the big damage to Brian’s car after the FIA gave us the all-clear to fix it, and tried to sort Mathieu’s engine. “We realised that there was a good chance of Mathieu having engine trouble, so we planned that Brian should tow them to the finish.


“Brian and Len decided to take the penalties on the nose and try jump the queue to start behind Mathieu, but the officials said no. “Mathieu’s engine did fail 10 km into the stage, so they waited for Brian to tow them in, despite the odds and a hot car. Fortunately, it rained and somehow they got through quickly enough to see Mathieu steal back third in class and 12th overall, with Brian 35th.


“That’s nothing near what we expected, starting Saturday in the lead and third in class, and both cars in the top ten. “But that’s racing. “We must take the positives out of this, like our rival T1.2 winner Han Wei who showed great sportsmanship by stopping to tow Mathieu. “Congratulations to them on a well-deserved class win after a ten-hour penalty last year and not being able to return home for 2 months due to lockdown.


“Our new CR6-Ts are however phenomenal. “We only finished them when we arrived here at the Dakar, and they have been a work in progress throughout the race. “The potential is brilliant. “Special thanks and appreciation to our entire, fantastic team and to all our many loyal fans and supporters, your encouragement was brilliant and really kept us going even in the hardest of times.”


A total of ten Century racecars started Dakar 2023, including two new Audi bi-turbo V6-powered Factory CR6-Ts, and eight Corvette V8 propelled CR6s. Despite a few issues en route, ex World Superbike champion Carlos Checa and Marc Terradellas clean-fuelled Astara car fared best of those with a good run to 23rd Saturday and a fine tenth on Sunday, to end 23rd overall and 10th in T1.2.


Astara teammates, Dakar bike heroes, lady legend Laia Sanz and Fabrizio Gerini overcame major midrace challenges to come home 19th on Saturday and 25th Sunday to end 32nd overall and 14th in class. 39th on Saturday, a late disaster also befel Antoine Galland and Denis Kripal’s ORC CR6. They struggled home last on Sunday to rescue 33rd overall.


After being helicoptered out after a Saturday crash, French rookie couple Yannick and Valérie Panagiotis dusted themselves off, righted their FJ CR6 and come home 44th Sunday to end 41st overall and 18th in class. Dutch twins, Tim and Tom Coronel had a clean run after their big Tuesday roll. They were 22nd Saturday and 28th on Sunday to claw back to 42nd overall and 19th in class. 


Sergio Vallejo and Mario Gozalez Tome’s Astara Century CR6 Corvette withdrew after a few days of struggle in Week 2, while Dakar 2023 did not start well for two Century crews. Oscar Fuertes Aldanon and Dodiego Vallejo rolled their Astara CR6 out on day 1, not far from where Dutch Michel Kremer and Thomas de Bois’ car burned out after a suspected fuel leak ignited.


“This race was a game of snakes and ladders game, with mostly small ladders to climb up and big vicious snakes waiting to take you down at all times,” Julien Hardy concluded. “But now it’s time to dust off and regroup. “We will be back, stronger, and better than ever!”

* 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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