Giant-killing South African rally-raid carmaker Century Racing heads to Dakar 2023 with its biggest effort yet. Headed by two brand new biturbo Century Racing CR6-Ts, the ten car team is ready to impress in the epic 14-day 8,500 km race across the Arabian Desert.
Designed, built, and developed in South Africa, Century has built state of the art rally-raid race cars for local and international clients since 1996. Traditionally powered by a 7-litre Corvette LS7 V8, 2023 is a major step for the team as it switches to its new biturbo V6 CR6-T racer.
Century Racing has entered two all new factory CR6-Ts for a pair of crack crews in Dakar 2023. Frenchmen Mathieu Serradori and Loic Minaudier, and South African heroes Brian Baragwanath and Leonard Cremer will drive the new cars now powered by the biturbo 2.9-litre V6 usually found under the bonnet of the 331 kW Audi RS4.
Mid-mounted behind the crew, the Motec ECU management controlled Audi biturbo V6 powers the rear wheels via a Sadev SL924 sequential gearbox. Sporting giant BF Goodrich tyres on 17-inch wheels with 440 mm wheel travel thanks to the CR6-T’s R53 suspension, the Century also has auto tyre inflation and-built in hydraulic jacks.
Both Century factory crews also bring huge Dakar experience to the table. A Dakar car stage winner en route to eighth in 2020 and seventh in 2022, Serradori also has three bike finishes to his name. Co-driver Minaudier likewise successfully raced Dakar motorcycles for five years before switching to the car hot seat and last year reading notes to 7th overall.
Former Dakar quad podium finisher Baragwanath switched to cars driving a Century CR6 in 2021. That star performance was delayed by challenges en route to finish 32nd, before a better, if still troubled run to 14th last year. Brian and Leonard have scored numerous podiums over the last two years and arrive at Dakar 2023 chasing that elusive stage win and a top overall result this year.
The new CR6-T is packed with innovations in every aspect, from its new biturbo engine to transmission tweaks and even all-new bodywork. The Century team has been hard at work testing in the South African Rally-Raid Championship and in the Namibian desert dunes.
The two Factory entries are backed by eight international crews racing Century CR6 Corvette V8s. Spanish mobility company Astara returns with four 90% e-fuel-powered CR6 V8s, rather than last year’s 70% green blend, for another all-star line-up.
Former MotoGP star Carlos Checa returns for his second Dakar alongside ex-Dakar biker and more recently a navigator, Marc Sola Terradellas. They’re backed by lady Dakar bike heroine Laia Sanz accompanied by fellow bike refugee and double Malle Moto winner Fabrizio Gerini in their second car attack after ending 23rd last year .
The other two Astara Century CR6s will be driven by Oscar Fuertes Aldanon on his fifth Dakar alongside seven-time Dakar finisher Dodiego Vallejo. And rookies Sergio Vallejo and Mario Gozalez Tome.
Two Dutch Coronel Racing Century crews see the highly experienced Coronel twins Tim and Tom Coronel sharing a Dakar car for the sixth time in 2023 in their CR6. It is experienced former solo car winner and all-round motor sportsman Tim’s fifteenth, and Tom’s ninth Dakar.
Their Coronel Racing teammates Michel Kremer and Thomas De Bois make their Dakar debut in another CR6. French crews, Yannick and Valérie Panagiotis are back for a second Dakar in their FJ Century CR6 after winning their entry at the South African Rally-Raid Championship Desert 1000 through the Road to Dakar Challenge. And Antoine Galland and Yannick Demay, who make their debut in their ORC car.
Racing 15 days from 31 December to 14 January, Dakar 2023 takes in some familiar Saudi Arabian Dakar routes out of Jeddah and around Al’ula, Ha’il and Riyadh, before four days of racing unexplored Empty Quarter desert tracks. Organisers promise sand and dunes to be this year’s principal Dakar ingredient.
“We're sending the heavy artillery in again!” Century Racing team boss Julien Hardy concludes. “We have a ten car lineup this year with some big names and a faster new turbo car for the factory team. Now let’s see how the toughest race in the world will unfold!”