For a young brand such as GWM and its Haval premium SUV line-up, success in the world’s toughest endurance race, the Dakar, is a perfect marketing platform. The opportunity was spotted early, and 2014 already marks the fifth time that GWM/Haval will compete against the world’s leading rally-raid specialists.
GWM’s success thus far has surprised skeptics the world over. When China’s Zhou Yong steered the first GWM Dakar racecar to a solid 33rd place in the 2010 edition of the event, the world took notice. Worth a mention is that Zhou had driven the car for only 200 kilometres prior to the rally!
Following that first tentative foray into the world of international motorsports, GWM/Haval has gone from strength to strength, with a 22nd position in 2011, and top ten finishes (6th in both instances) in 2012 and 2013 – the team having been bolstered by the addition of the experienced Carlos Sousa. Where will the GWM/Haval H5 racecar finish in 2014?
With two top ten finishes in consecutive races, it is certainly being regarded as a threat. Sousa is again in the driving seat, but the second GWM/Haval racecar will this year be piloted by another experienced driver, Frenchman Christian Lavieille.
Sousa and Lavieille will have their work cut out for them. The 2014 edition of the Dakar will head into the dunes and heat of the Atacama desert. The special stages are longer this year, and there are some new, marathon-like section as well, which will test not only the vehicles’ endurance, but also their drivers and co-pilots. GWM/Haval thus far has a 100 % finishing record in all Dakars it has participated in, and recently also emerged victorious in the arduous China Grand Rally, a 6 000 km+ event that was contested by more than 300 vehicles.
The 2014 Dakar Rally kicks off on January 5, 2014. Keep an eye on the red GWM/Haval racecars with the numbers 306 and 315. They may just spring another surprise.