The competition was gnashing its teeth. In the first half of the Dakar rally, famous factory teams had to bow again to the skills of only nineteen-year-old Polish driver Eryk Goczal, who won the T4 category last year. He dominated the Challenger category this year, riding fast, smart and reliable. And it seemed that nothing could stop him on the track. Well, maybe not on the track…
“We have unsubstantiated information that a rival team had our equipment checked with the aim of disqualifying us from the race,” reads a press statement from the Polish Energylandia Rally Team. This came after the organizer disqualified them with immediate effect for using unauthorized carbon clutches.
Apparently, it was really a tip-off, because the technical commissioners went for sure. Both machines had carbon clutches installed, which they used even in the first half of the race and with which the cars passed the technical inspection. The Energylandia Rally Team defends itself by saying that according to the rules there are no design restrictions in the design and materials of the clutch in the Challenger class. In addition, they allegedly asked the FIA by phone if they could use ceramic clutches.
“If they didn’t get that approval, they certainly wouldn’t have spent nearly eighty thousand euros on ceramic clutches that they couldn’t use,” says a well-informed source directly in Dakar, who does not wish to be named. “They have three cars, each had one clutch for half of the competition, so two for the race, the third was a spare. Unfortunately, they don’t have that statement in writing, so the decision is clear and final.”
To be clear, there was no speed advantage for the drivers on the track. A ceramic clutch will not speed up the car or improve its shifting in any way. But with light specials, the stock clutch is a technical weakness and the teams had to change it every day as a precaution. There was even a threat of her failure right in the race. And that’s why they bought ceramic clutches.
The organizer relies on a rule that directly defines the list of parts where the use of composite materials is allowed. And there is no connection between them. Composite materials can be used for some parts such as the dashboard, intake manifold, air ducts and exterior body parts.
Both riders wanted to appeal the decision, but ultimately did not. The reason is quite simple – the organizer has 30 days to consider the appeal, so it would be completely pointless. So it will be resolved after the competition.
How do you perceive this? Was there a violation of the rules or just a misinterpretation? Was it intentional or a mistake? Just for the record, it is appropriate to add that the Polish Energylandia Rally Team used Taurus T3 Max factory specials in the Dakar Rally, against which mainly Can-Am specials race.