Leg 2 and Leg 3: two days of sand dunes
Pisco-Pisco (January 7), and Pisco-San Juan de Marcona (January 8): While Leg 2 placed the emphasis on navigational skills, with the car competitors running first on the road for once, depriving them of the motorbike tracks that traditionally guide them, Leg 3’s 296km stage proved a challenge for the drivers and led to a considerable amount of car damage. “Not all the hazards were indicated in the road book and the topography was hard to decipher visually,” reported BFGoodrich® technician Jérôme Hancart at the stage finish. “There were portions the drivers thought were flat before suddenly finding themselves straddling the crest of a sand dune. Some of them performed big leaps and ended up rolling heavily.”
Despite the challenges faced over the two days, the crews were pleased with the performance of the new BFGoodrich® KDR2+. “It’s not often tires make a difference on sand because the crews need to stop to deflate them if they want to optimise grip. The pressure in the tires on the two driven wheels can be as low as 0.6 bar,” explained Matt Hanlon, the designer of the KDR2+. “At that sort of pressure, the trick is to make sure the cover stays on the rim and avoid pinching. During the new tire’s development, we ran a test to see how low we could go. The Dakar is the real thing, though, and Carlos Sainz hit trouble twice on Monday running at 1.1 bar.”
Although abrasive, sand in itself is not hard wearing. “A mixture of sand and stones can be disastrous, however. Much worse than just stones alone,” continued Matt. “Sand has a lubricating effect and, if it is on a hard-packed base, the cars tend to slide more and this can lead to wear. In this sort of situation, the two-wheel drive runners are more prone to puncturing because of the demands made on their tires. This is why the KDR2+ features a technology used for airplane tires in order to make it stronger.”
As a result, BFGoodrich®’s latest solution stood up well, with very few punctures reported, in spite of the cuts seen on some side walls due to sharp stones. “The drivers are very pleased,” confirmed Jérôme.