Kahle/Schünemann: „Small things make a big difference“

MOTORSPORT -  DAKAR 2013 - PART 2
The dust of the Dakar has settled: In this interview, Matthias Kahle and Dr. Thomas M. Schünemann look back at their exciting and successful adventure in the desert. The pilots of the HS RallyeTeam talk about their best and worst experiences and why they are satisfied with position 13.

Matthias and Thomas, you finished the Rallye Dakar on position 13 overall. How would you sum up the event?

Matthias Kahle Considering the high number of top cars that participated and reached the goal, the 13th position is a fantastic result. Our whole team worked as one. With the performance of this year, we would always have landed among the Top Ten in the competitions of the last years, but the participants were simply too strong.

Dr. Thomas M. Schünemann I completely agree with that. You only have to look at the final results: nine manufacturer-supported prototypes lie in front of us – X-Raid, Toyota and Great Wall as well as three buggies that were superior in power due to their bigger restrictor. On position 13 among initially 153 cars, we are the best manufacturer-independent prototype-team. At the same time, we outpaced excellent drivers like Boris Gadasin, who had won the Silk Way Wallye in July. Each of us showed his full commitment to achieve this performance. Our team did outstanding work and deserves a big compliment!

What was finally missing for a Top Ten position?

TS By calculation, the distance in the finish was less than an hour – this happens quickly. During the second stage, for example: On this day, we did the first kilometers with a 4WD car in the dunes. The day was like a training day for us. We recognized that we were lacking a test in the dunes prior to the rallye. There was also some bad luck. In the Fiambalá competition, three cars that were in front of us in the finish had already had problems right at the beginning of the stage. These teams were lucky that the Special was stopped due to flooded tracks. But it is the way it is. And you never know what would have happened to you during the stage.

MK Besides the changes of the rules, there were many small things that made a big difference. As all competitors were close together, you quickly lost five or ten positions due to a tyre damage. In this case you did not start from position 15, but 25th behind a row of trucks. That is not so much a problem in the dunes where there is enough space to overtake, but on the narrow gravel roads we sometimes got stuck in the dust of the cars in front of us for more than 100 kilometers. Thus, a tyre damage still affected the race the day after.

MOTORSPORT -  DAKAR 2013 - PART 2Matthias, you have made your first experiences in the dunes with a 4WD prototype. How much did you have to adjust your driving style in comparison to the buggy?

MK There are significant differences. With a buggy, I exactly know how fast I can drive over a dune comb. The buggies are lower and broader than the prototypes and have more suspension travel. With the SAM, I had to approach the limit slowly in order not to risk an overturn. Another difference is the automatic air pressure system, which is only allowed in buggies. In a prototype, you have to get out of the car and let the air out or refill it by hand. You simply need the experience to know: Is it really necessary to get out before I approach the dunes? All in all, the buggies are easier to drive in the dunes, but they have considerable disadvantages on curvy mountain roads.

What has been you best and worst experience during the Dakar 2013?

MK The best moment is when you have reached the finish of the last competition, get out of the car and know: We did it! Once again, we mastered the Dakar! The worst experience definitely was on the eight day. We were driving through a dried-out riverbed when suddenly a flood wave came rolling towards us. I only thought: You have to get away from here. No car in this world can hold out this mass of water, what could be seen on the breakdown of our driver colleague Guilherme Spinelli who wanted to fight through the floods.

TS This moment was really tough, I agree with you. There have not been any other really serious incidents. We all had some respect for the competition in 3,400 meters in height, but our bodies got over it well. For me, driving down the Andes towards Chile was especially fascinating. You are still in the mountains, see the Atacama Desert and even the Pacific Ocean appears on the horizon. Amazing! You always have to be highly concentrated during the Dakar, but on the connection sections there is some time to enjoy the landscape.

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2 Responses to Kahle/Schünemann: „Small things make a big difference“

  1. Interessanter Aritkel, auch wenn der auf englisch ist.
    Von eurem Auto haben wir früh am ersten Tag nahe des Dakar Villages ein Foto gemacht.
    Dann vielleicht bis zur nächsten Rallye in Peru oder sonst in Südamerika.
    Grüsse aus Lima.

  2. Sorry Sollte heisen erster Tag des Dakar Villages in Lima.

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