Story by Roberto Motta
Photo by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
On the tarmac, ice and snow of the French Alps, the new Abarth 124 Rally, driven by three private crews, demonstrated its competitiveness and excellent performance. Last weekend the Abarth 124 rally enjoyed a promising debut in the Monte Carlo Rally, the first event of the World Rally Championship. In South America, the Fiat Panda finished well in the Dakar rally.
The new Abarth competed in the 85th edition of the automotive rally with 3 crews: the French Francois Delecour and Dominique Savignoni (Team Milano Racing), the promising talent of ACI Team Italia Fabio Andolfi with Manuel Fenoli, and Gabriele Noberasco with Daniele Michi (team Bernini).
The rally took place under very difficult weather conditions but the three crews are very satisfied and enthusiastic about the debut performance of the new Abarth 124 rally. In the event there were 75 entries, and the Abarth placed in the top 20 of the rankings in all the events.
It’s a nice result because in a rally with snow, at least on paper should have put rear-wheel drive cars at a disadvantage, and favor the cars equipped with four-wheel drive. The Abarth 124 is a rear wheel drive car.Read Abarth 124 Debuts
The second day saw Andolfi climb up to 18th place in the overall standings and ending the leg in the 27th place, despite a serious accident in the eighth special stage which tested the structural robustness of the car, but forced the crew to withdraw.
You can see the accident here:
Delecour was 19th and firmly leading the R-Gt ranking ahead of many R5 models when on day three he was forced to withdraw. Gabriele Noberasco continued the race, overcoming many difficulties crossing of the Col de Turini under the snow in very poor grip conditions.
He was the first driver to score an excellent result, taking second place in the R-Gt category. So it was definitely a good debut that obviously bodes well for the next stage of the World Championship.
The debut race was followed by the Abarth staff that supported the Milano Racing and Bernini Rally teams and was used to develop the car to the benefit of the drivers and teams that will be competing in the Abarth 124 Trophy in the Italian Rally Championship.
Fiat Panda and the Dakar Rally
2017 started in a great way for Fiat, which opened the season with a starring role in the toughest race in the world, the Dakar Rally. Fiat participated in the exhausting marathon with a Fiat Panda 4×4 Cross, a closely derived from the famous subcompact car Panda.
The Dakar Rally (or simply “The Dakar”; formerly known as the “Paris–Dakar Rally”) is an annual rally raid organized by the Amaury Sport Organisation. Most events were from Paris, France, to Dakar, Senegal, but security threats in Mauritania led to the cancellation of the 2008 rally; races since 2009 have been held in South America.
Credit for the PanDakar’s amazing achievement goes to the Orobica Raid team, formed in 2008 and led by Giulio Verzeletti, who specializes in long-distance raids like the Dakar. All team members were highly experienced drivers; the team is composed of the Italians Verzeletti, who has competed with motorbikes, cars and trucks in 15 Dakars, and Antonio Cabini, who has participated, on motorbikes, cars and trucks, in 20 Dakars. That’s a LOT of experience between the two drivers.
Cabini drove the PanDakar through to the finish line, relying on the invaluable input of Nicola Montecchio, who successfully managed the entire engine preparation side, especially the features needed to overcome the high altitudes reached and maintained for long stretches of the event. The 2017 Dakar, was almost 9,000 km long, with over 4,000 km of exhausting special stages through Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay.
The PanDakar, is the first utility car closely derived from a production vehicle to complete the race, had to overcome plenty of challenges: 7 special stages were more than 400 km long, including one which was over 500 km long; car and crew had to deal with the problems caused by the shortage of oxygen due to the altitude, which never fell below 3,500 metres as they drove for 2,200 km over 5 days.
Moreover, temperatures often exceeding 40° Celsius, combined with the incredibly variable weather, put a strain on both the mechanical strength of the PanDakar and the physical resilience of its crew. Only 53 out of the 93 teams who started made it to the finish, including the Orobica Raid team, which drove the PanDakar to success across harsh terrains and scorching deserts.
The key characteristics that make the Fiat Panda Cross agile and easy to drive, starting from its compact size, were fundamental to the PanDakar’s amazing result in the 2017 Dakar Rally, thanks to its outstanding ability to deal with any terrain and weather conditions.
The Panda was the Europe’s best-selling city car in 2016, with the sales record of more than 190,000 registrations, and it is the perfect choice for all uses from the urban slalom to coping with snow … and, as of today, across harsh terrains and scorching deserts.
For more information visit http://www.pandakar.it