After a successful run in 2012, wherein GWM teams placed 6th and 19th, the Chinese manufacturer has announced that it will again be competing in the most gruelling off-road race of our time.
The 2013 Dakar Rally is the 35th incarnation of this revered race, and starts on the 5th of January. For the first time, the first day will incorporate a dune stage, and starts in Lima (Peru). Drivers and riders then cross over Peru to Argentina to Chile, ending in Santiago for the first time and covering around 8000 km.
GWM’s vehicle has also changed, using a production-based engine rather than the racing developed mills used in previous years. This may mean that the teams will be behind on power, but GWM hopes that improved reliability and fuel economy will give them the edge.
The same drivers will be entered as this year, with Carlos Sousa (Portuguese) and Zhou Yong (Chinese) now experienced hands at the endurance required by the Dakar. Yong has been racing for 12 years, and Sousa competing in the Dakar for his 13th time. The racing Havals will be supported by H5 SUVs and Steed bakkies, which allows for testing of these vehicles as well.
The teams and vehicles have been tested in Morocco, where Dakar testing has been under way from various manufcaturers. Sousa comments: “As other teams, we have to work in other car details like suspension, chassis and the cooling system to compensate for the lack of power. This year we have more time to test.”