Dakar Rally 2021: From hybrids to electrics
Under pressure from the public in the face of climate demands, the famous desert competition is investing in electric-powered engines and taking the fist steps toward a green future.
We are at a time when cars and motorcycles are beginning to be adapted to the new challenges of everydar life, and we know that the Dakar Rally is often criticized for the pollution it generates. So it has decided to take the first steps towards becoming a more ecolofical rally.
For Anne Lassman-Trappier, head of mobility for the association France Nature Environments (FNE), the Dakar is a "stagnant" race."It still interests some people, but it no longer moves in the direction of history", she remarks.
"When we have a motor sport, we know very well that we don't keep up with the times. Every day we have 350 vehicles on the road, and that's something, but we're working", said David Castera, the new Dakar Rally boss.
But as a sign of the new times, the famous rally is trying to show its willingness to go "green", in the image of other motor sports.
Photo by Riwald Dakar Teams, at Eurol Lubricants
We can say that this race also serves as a laboratory. Several years ago, the Dakar organization launched a carbon offset program in the Amazon.
In 2017, a 100 percent electric car managed to finish the race for the first time after two failures in previous years. This vehicle, sponsored by Acciona, a giant Spanish renewable energy company, finished 52nd, 82 hours, 31 minutes and 48 seconds behind th winner Stéphane Peterhansel.
In 2020, for the 42nd edition of the race, held in Saudi Arabia, a hybrid truck made its debut in the competition. After five stages, the Riwald team was the penultimate.
It is importante to note that "The truck's electrical system is charged while driving, so there is no need for a generator or charger. The battery is simply charged by the truck's internal process", explained Dutch driver Gert Huzink.
An electric SUV (sport utility vehicle) completes the stages, with Guerlain Chicherit at the wheel, he who has nine Dakar on his resume.
With a 60 kWh battery and two electric motor, the Odyssey 21 reaches a top speed of 200 km/h and goes from 0 to 100 in 4.5 seconds, making very little noise.
Photo by Extream E, at Green Racing News
"Bringing meaning back to Dakar"
The experiment could lead to participation with a competition vehicle this year, 2021. The problem at the moment is that a battery has only a 50 km range.
"It's very surprising. In motorsports, there is a certain taboo about noise, but after having raced a week in the desert with a car that doesn't make noise, I can say that it is much better", Guerlain Chicherit admits.
"The ambition is to be able to be there in 2023 or 2024, we are realistic. But you have to start in 2021", he added. Could we ever have a Dakar 100 by electric center? "It will happen, I'm sure", says Theophile Cousin, an engineer who heads the project.
The big question here is whether the organizers have heard the message. They say that "in a period of ten years" there will be a 100 percent hybrid truck category and hint that the electric car "could lead to the cration of a new category" in the Dakar Rally.
Were you aware of this new approach in the Dakar Rally? What do you think about Daakar's concern for the environment? Do you think this approach completely changes the essence of the Dakar Rally?
Share your opinion with us, through the handle @dakarshoes.official.