CONRAD RAUTENBACH(zwe) 1.69m / 68kg
Outdoor life, fishing, hunting, safaris, mountain bikes, flying planes and helicopter
“The secret of the Dakar is to pace yourself”
Best rookie back in 2017 and 9th overall in a Toyota Hilux, Conrad Rautenbach returns after a two-year absence. Bitten by the Dakar bug, the Zimbabwean had always wanted to come back, never finding the good opportunity and that finally came thanks to the PH Sport team and their brand new SSV Zephyr prototype. The link he has with the French team goes way back when Rautenbach was in his WRC years. Son of a rally driver, he started competing just after getting his driving licence at the age of 16. His first co-driver was actually his dad. From events in Zimbabwe, he then raced in championships in South Africa, the United Kingdom before moving up to Junior WRC and WRC rallies. Rautenbach has indeed over 50 WRC rallies under the belt and his dream was to one day come and discover the Dakar which he eventually fulfilled in 2017. After that first taste, he never forgot the discipline and his first step back towards the event came last march when he lined up in an SSV finishing second of the Merzouga Rally (behind Al Attiyah). That experience made him meet Pedro Bianchi Prata who was part of the same team. The Portuguese who is a former biker having finished all of his 9 Dakar rallies will therefore be in the same car as Rautenbach in Saudi Arabia. The project is ambitious, the prototype is promising and both team mates certainly have the speed and experience. Now the goal is to deliver and fight for the win in the SSV class.
C.R.: “My dad was a rally driver and that gave me the taste for racing. I have memories of watching the Dakar on TV when it was still in Africa. I remember the start under the snow in France and then the dunes of Africa. Obviously I would specifically watch the former WRC drivers. I’d been thinking about doing the Dakar for many years. When I stopped WRC, I always had that objective of doing the Dakar and switching to that discipline. I actually prefer long endurance races. In WRC I was always better on rallies like the Safari or the Greece rally with long specials. My first experience in 2017 brings back great memories. It was a tough learning curve. The problem is that it made me want to come back, it’s like a drug. You can’t stop. Sadly nothing came through. And then came the Zephyr project and the PH Sport team that I knew from my WRC years. From the Dakar I learned that it’s impossible to drive at the pace you want. The secret to the Dakar is to pace yourself. In one second, if you’re not focused, you can hit a rock and the race is over. You can perform well on one or two stages but the key is lasting two weeks. I know that the second Dakar is always the hardest. You think you can go faster and get a better result. But it has to be a team effort, especially in an SSV that isn’t as strong as a normal car. I’ll be with Pedro Bianchi Prata after meeting him at the Merzouga rally. I like his style, I like his personality and he has all that experience on a bike. Knowing PH Sport, I believe the car will be competitive and like any driver I’m not going for second or third place...”
- Mark : PH-SPORT
- Model : ZEPHYR
- Performance tuner : PH Sport
- Assistance : PH Sport
- Class : T3.P Prototype A-T vehicles
All news of C. Rautenbach
Rautenbach leads Despres and Domzala by one minute
Conrad Rautenbach is hunting for his first stage victory. The Zimbabwean has moved into the lead after 250 km of the special, exactly 1’04 ahead of Cyril Despres, who is putting in his best performance since the beginning, and Aron Domzala. It is going to be a close battle right up to the finishing line!
Is it Rautenbach’s day?
For his second Dakar, Conrad Rautenbach is gaining experience and speed behind the wheel of his PH Sport buggy. The Zimbabwean is in form on this second stage and has been the quickest driver to complete 214 km, 2’30 ahead of Jose Antonio Hinojo López. As for Chaleco López, he has dropped back to 7 minutes behind the stage leader.
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