Monday, January 5, 2015

Dakar: Electrical problems unfortunately sideline CR Racing Audi TDI powered Titano

By Johan Laubscher

Unfortunate news has arrived from CR Racing who are contesting the 2015 Dakar Rally. The Italian team suffered electrical problems on the first leg of the event from Buenos Aires to Villa Carlos Paz. It was a 833 km opening day split into three segments, an opening liaison of 144 km, the Special Stage of 170 km and the concluding liaison of 519 km.

The #399 Audi V6 TDI powered Titano began Sunday's Special Stage as the 97th starting car at 12:12.30 local time and began suffering electrical issues within the opening kilometres. After replacing the battery and alternator, they made it through CP1 (passage control point) at the 15 km mark in an agonising time of 4:11.29, running 136th of 137 starters. The electrical problems continued and crippled the car in-between CP1 and CP2, kilometres 15 and 69, leaving the Titano and its driving crew of Michele Cinotto and Fulvio Zini stranded in the stage.

The crew worked hard, and in true Dakar-spirit, received assistance from supporters along the route, with the car also being towed at one point. However it was not to be and by the time the sun set on Sunday 4 January the CR Racing entry was a confirmed retirement and was not included on the start list for the second stage from Villa Carlos Paz to San Juan.

This Dakar entry was a race against time for CR Racing and Audi Sport Italia. The team had very little time to build and prepare the car before it needed to be transported to Argentina. Upon arrival in South America the team was hosted by Audi Argentina in the workshop of the Audi Lenken dealership. There the Italian crew was hard at work with all of their final preparations before scrutineering and parc fermé on Thursday.

The car successfully passed scrutineering, but the CR Racing crew was well aware of the challenges ahead of them. The Titano was still an unproven and untested vehicle, with many questions and unknowns still existing concerning its longevity, components and performance.

It was a sad end to CR Racing's 2015 Dakar campaign, but the Italian team still deserves much congratulating in getting the car built and completed in time for their Dakar attempt. All of the team members involved worked flat-out in order to complete the build and preparation. As was stated on the the CR Racing twitter feed before their departure from Italy: "Trust us, none of those who have built @CRracing_dakar new car have saved effort and sweat."

Despite the retirement, the CR Racing crew will be remaining in the region of Varadero in Argentina, where they will be testing the Titano. They have mentioned that they intend to compete in more races during 2015 and to hopefully be back for Dakar 2016 with a proven vehicle.

Hopefully this will not be the end of the CR Racing Titano and that it will be seen in rally raid competition in the future.

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: Mile Veckiardo‎ / Mirko Veckiardo and Vanesa Porette and Cinotto Racing / Audi Sport Italia / CR Racing