Renault Trucks accompanies its customers on the Dakar Rally, providing the support of its South American network
Renault Trucks vehicles, which have been a common feature of the Dakar Rally for many years now, are present this year with 7 Keraxes competing in the race, 10 as assistance vehicles and a “Cape-to-Cape” Sherpa serving as a press vehicle. This involvement allows the manufacturer to show its customers the quality and sturdiness of its vehicles, and particularly those in Latin America, under the most arduous conditions imaginable.
On Saturday January 3rd, after months of preparation, the great moment finally arrived for the competitors. The first stage of this new formula of the Dakar in South America was launched and they were off for 9,574km of driving, from Buenos Aires to Buenos Aires !
Hardly out of the Argentine capital, the Renault Kerax and Sherpas were already on the “Pampa” for real. And whilst we often use this term to talk about a distant destination, when you are there in real life, you’re better off on-board a Kerax with its renowned exceptional crossing capacities and sturdiness ! Ideal partners for this type of exercise, the Keraxes cut out the route without a shudder and gobble up the hundreds of kilometres into Patagonia.
Over the first stages, the main concern will be to look after the mechanical side and scrupulously respect the safety regulations imposed by the organisers, an important priority for Renault Trucks. The closer we get to the Andes, the more difficult and more numerous the fording challenges. It will take all the skills of the drivers and the capacities of the trucks to get over them without incident.
The competitors came through the Andean peaks on January 9th and into Chile. With crossings at sometimes over 3,000m altitude, they were able to get a quick look at the Aconcagua, the highest point in the Andes at 6,959m. They arrived in Valparaiso in the evening, followed by a day of rest to recover, draw breath but more importantly, maintain the vehicles.
During the race, the Keraxes of our customers involved in the Rally can count on the assistance Kerax for support provided by Renault Trucks. It is carrying over 1,000 references of spare parts (gearboxes, brake drums, suspension lamps, radiators, to name some of the larger parts), and when a part is not available (like a windscreen, for example), the drivers can count on Renault Trucks’ Argentinean network to supply the part to one of the 10 dealers present – Buenos Aires, Caminoa, Autocam, Scalbi, Francolatina, Ruta Sur, Aco Plar, Logiba, Control Pesado and Genco – in a timely fashion.
The latter, Genco Trucks SA, has been official Renault Trucks leadership in Argentina since January 2005. It has taken an active role in this Dakar event by supporting the Kerax which took part in the reconnaissance part as an important local relay for the organisation, and making a rapid assistance vehicle available to Renault Trucks customers. Strategically installed on the Mercosur road, it offers Renault Trucks clients unparalleled comfort with a convenient location, rapid access and after-sales service with highly qualified teams trained in the most recent technologies.
With more than 18,000 vehicles over 6 tons sold in 2008, Argentina is, behind Brazil, the second biggest market in Latin America, and its development is looking promising. For Renault Trucks, the Kerax represents 20% of sales in the Heavy Construction sector. The vehicle stock in this country is growing constantly. Meanwhile, Argentina is also having to deal with the highest accident rate in the world. Given that the human factor is at fault in 90% of cases and that road safety is a major concern of the hauliers, Renault Trucks Argentina has decided to take things in hand by offering practical solutions. It has created a training programme for HGV drivers entitled IVP (Instruccion Vehiculos Pesados). Given by experienced professionals, the theoretical and practical training promotes the driver’s expertise at the wheel and makes him responsible for his behaviour with an objective of “professionalizing the job”. Less important in terms of volume but also itself experiencing buoyant development, the Chilean market is of great interest to Renault Trucks. The manufacturer has been there since 2005 and doubled the number of its branches in 2007 by signing an agreement with the company Salinas y Fabres (SALFA). They meet European standards and have the level required to sell the new DXi engine. Their customers are sure to find the whole of the range and a level of service and professionalism which fully meets Renault Trucks’ requirements. In the Chilean market, Renault Trucks sells Keraxes primarily (70% of sales) which are particularly well adapted to the mining and forestry activities which are so prevalent in the country. The Premium Lander, Premium Long Distance and “fire-fighter” Premiums are enjoying substantial success !
Speaking of success, the Cape-to-Cape Sherpa, present on the Dakar Rally as a “press vehicle”, continues to attract popular attention along the way. Each time it fills up in a petrol station, a crowd gathers around and comments on its originality and its impressive dimensions. The driver has even been known to hear cries of “Vivre la France !”, and as soon as he opens the door a little bit, everyone is crowding around trying to see what it looks like inside and asking to have their photograph taken in front of it. No doubt the Sherpa is the most photographed vehicle on the 2009 Dakar convoy !