Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Dakar: CR Racing heading home after completing testing in Argentina

By Johan Laubscher

The 2015 Dakar Rally concluded on Saturday and all the various teams are preparing to ship out heading back home. CR Racing may not have taken part in the full rally, but they took the opportunity to test their Audi TDI powered Titano in Argentina, whilst the Dakar Rally continued on its way into South America.

The Italian team had entered the 2015 Dakar Rally, but electrical problems on the opening day from Buenos Aires to Villa Carlos Paz unfortunately sidelined the team. They knew the car was unproven and untested and thus decided to withdraw the entry and to spend the remaining time testing the vehicle in Argentina. The CR Racing crew has returned to Italy with the exception of their logistics team member who is still with the team's vehicles, along with all of the other Dakar competitors in Buenos Aires, preparing to be shipped and then transported back home.

This project was a frantic race against time for CR Racing and Audi Sport Italia. They worked very hard to complete the build of the Titano in time before it needed to be transported from Italy to Argentina. Upon arrival they were hosted by Audi Argentina at the Audi Lenken dealership's workshop in Buenos Aires. There the CR Racing squad completed their final preparations before scrutineering and parc fermé. They successfully passed scrutineering, but they were well aware of the challenges that they were facing with an untested and unproven vehicle.

Dakar 2015 got underway on 4 January. The Titano and its driving crew of Michele Cinotto and Fulvio Zini were the 97th starters in field of 137 cars. They began experiencing electrical problems within the opening kilometres. After changing the alternator and battery they managed to fire up the car and passed CP1 (passage control point) at the 15 km mark in a time of 4:11.29. A few kilometres later, between CP1 and CP2, the electrical problems returned and stranded the Titano in the stage, refusing to start. The team then decided to withdraw from the rally to rather concentrate on testing and preparing the Titano for the rest of 2015, rather than attempting the very long and challenging second stage of the Dakar with their unproven Titano.

Since the withdrawal the team spent time working on and preparing the Titano for testing in various regions and road conditions in Argentina. They spent a lot of time working with various systems on the car, including cooling, chassis and suspension. The main focus of the tests have been to evaluate the Titano and its performance in order to identify areas needing improvement. Argentina provides a very suitable testing location in comparison to the current winter conditions in Europe.

CR Racing will now be heading home to Italy after having learnt a lot about their new Titano. Dakar 2015 may not have been the 9000 km adventure that the team had hoped for, but their early withdrawal offered them the time to gain valuable experience and data with the Titano. They are also planning to take part in a number of rally raid events this year in the build up to Dakar 2016.

The CR Racing project is a collaboration between Audi Sport Italia's Emilio Radaelli and Michele Cinotto. The T1 classed vehicle was built by Audi Sport Italia and was named the Titano. It is a purpose-built tubular space frame rally raid vehicle fitted with an Audi 3.0 V6 TDI engine.

You can find CR Racing on Twitter HERE (@CRracing_dakar) and Facebook HERE.

Photo credit: Cinotto Racing / Audi Sport Italia / CR Racing