The Swedish team Pewano never got the chance to show their full capacity during the world’s toughest race – the 2012 Dakar Rally. Half way into the first special, the violent fire forced Alfie Cox and Jürgen Schröder to abandon the PEWANO XC60 RR.
“The car went up in flames and a large part has been totally destroyed" , says Hans Sönksen, Team Manager of Pewano. He continues: “We are terribly disappointed and sad. We knew this would not be easy, but that the car would catch fire, was not even a conceivable scenario. During 14 days of racing you always have to be prepared for mechanical problems, but since we had all the necessary fire equipment and had secured all flammable material - even in our wildest imagination - we had not been able to predict this.”
It was during the first stage between Mar del Plata and Santa Rosa de la Pampa, after a couple hours of faultless driving, that something went wrong. With the car gutted by the flames, it’s not possible to determine what caused the fire, but we believe that a leak in either the power steering pump or one of the hoses in the power steering system was the cause.
“We were racing at the pace of the front-runners, the car was absolutely stunning. I did not have to fight to keep up the speed, and I enjoyed every moment of the drive as the car was so easy to control. About 30km into the stage, the power-steering failed and the next moment my side of the car was engulfed in flames. We immediately tried to extinguish the fire, but it was just not possible. Fortunately we managed to escape from the burning car; however the entire team is really shaken-up and very, very disappointed”, explains a devastated Cox.
For the last couple of months everyone in the Pewano team has worked day and night for this race, and to see the car get burned into ashes - there’s only one word to describe the overall feeling: emptiness. Everybody associated with the project stand equally heartbroken. We were set to bring the car to the finish in Lima, regardless of results, and now we are deprived of that opportunity.
Despite the violent fire, both Cox and Schröder are unharmed. Cox remarked: “It could have been much worse, the most feared moment for any racing driver is to be caught in a burning vehicle, we escaped and we are shocked, and disillusioned, but otherwise fine. I feel truly sorry for the team; they worked really hard in preparing the car. Now we will re-group, and plan our way forward."
To read on the Dakar website:
"The former South African motorcycle rider, participating at the wheel of a Volvo
XC60-based Pewano, has been the victim of a fire which has destroyed his vehicle.
Both the driver and his German teammate Jürgen Schröder emerged unscathed."
More information by Pewano will follow tomorrow.
TV picture from the podium start yesterday.
Stage 1: Mar del Plata - Santa rosa de la Pampa
- Liaison sections, 763 km
- Special stage, 57 km
Today's special stage has begun for car number 318 - Pewano - after a 143-kilometre
liaison from Mar del Plata. On this 57-kilometre course, Alfie Cox will power along the
seaside for about 30 km, with a few little sand dunes in the middle part, before heading
for the hinterland.
The defending champion, Qatar's Nasser Al-Attiyah, and his Hummer were the first to set off, followed two minutes later by South African Giniel de Villiers and his Toyota Hilux. Then came Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA), followed by American Robby Gordon (Hummer), Pole Holowczic (Mini) and Spaniard Nani Roma (Mini).
To be continued...
Yesterday while making the last adjustments, installing the navigation equipment and ensuring everything is according to Race-Rules... Alfie Cox happily confirmed:
- We're ready to show-off the new car, and hopefully shut a few critics’ mouths this year.
- At the same time we are not considered one of the main contenders and that suits me just fine. Let the opposition have it out and we will sit back and focus on the job at hand. The Dakar has proven over the years – if you work hard throughout, and bring the car home, chances are you finish in the top-ten. So that is our first aim. Then we will try and compete with the front-runners. I believe the Volvo is magnificent and can definitely compete with the front end of the field. Jürgen and I have been together for long enough; we will again work together as a good team; the whole mix should give us a good result. This is not a 3 or a 5 day rally, we race for 14 days over a total distance of 9000km. As in the past we will give it everything right to the last checkered flag.
After many hours of administrative and technical scrutineering - the PEWANO XC60 RR
is now locked up in Parc fermé, a secure parking area that ensures that the vehicle is
not tampered with before the race. In other words, the final work of the car is now done
and we're not allowed to get close to our car until start.
The next step is to continue making the truck all set for the race. Even if we're nervous, the overall feeling in Argentina is really good.
Also, in Swedish media » Svenskt team ställer upp i Dakarrallyt (Svenska Dagbladet)
In two days it's time for Pewano to enter the start podium, which each competitor visits to be introduced. Well, it seems to be ready.
After a long trip across the Atlantic the Pewano crew arrived in Buenos Aires on Monday evening. Except for some minor trouble with the customs and heat-adjustment, everything has gone well. Yesterday we went to Delta Dock (100 kms north of BA) to get our vehicles and then continued with the 500 kms trip to Mar del Plata.
Though it's been a long day, the preparation of the car has started. Soon it's time to
do battle - and we're ready to line up at the start of the 2012 edition of the Dakar. For the Pewano team, the Dakar has begun... and we're eagerly waiting for the start!