Ford Trucks, Bridgestone, County 4x4, Kale Radiators, BorgWarner, Tirsan Kardanhttp://www.vdrtruckracing.com/
It has been 10 years since Yves Rutten first completed the Dakar with his friend and associate Peter Van Delm, and the two Belgians are now gearing up for a long-awaited return to the world's biggest rally. Through his job as a product development and testing engineer at Ford Europe, Yves established contact with the Turkey-based Ford Otosan company, who agreed to provide the VDR Truck Racing team with prototypes of their celebrated Ford Cargo. Third in the 2013 International Truck of the Year standings, the Cargo paved the way for the F-Max scooping the top prize in 2019. After a three-year wait, two base trucks were delivered to Belgium in late 2017, and Yves, Peter and their team worked around the clock for almost a year to build vehicles worthy of competing in the Dakar. They took their first test drive in mid-September -several hours before unveiling their trucks at a press conference- and are now looking forward to the ultimate challenge: getting both vehicles to the finish line in Lima. Yves was unfortunately involved in a car accident in December 2018 but scans showed that no serious damage was done, and the 43-year-old is confident of a full recovery before this first outing for Ford Trucks on the Dakar.
"I'm a Ford Europe employee at the testing centre in Lommel: durability power train engineer, it's a cool job. So I was involved with the testing of Ford Otosan trucks in Europe. My associate Peter and I had already done the Dakar and we had an idea to go back with a faster truck, to be more competitive. Once I convinced him to do something in the under 10-litre class -because above 10 litres the level is very high- I started communicating with the Ford Otosan management via my supervisor. In a lucky coincidence, I actually got to do a presentation at their engineering centre, and they liked the idea of providing us with a truck. It's great to have a big corporation behind you, but of course there has to be a return on investment, and everything takes time. It took around three years for everything to go through, so we eventually got the base vehicles in December 2017. When you have an engineering background, you want to build your own truck, have your own ideas. So while we are factory-supported, the two trucks were privately built in Belgium. We worked constantly for a year with around four or five people, sometimes as many as 10 or 11 for bigger jobs. From an engineering perspective, we started with the DNA of a rally car and tried to implement that to a racing truck. We had to come up with in-house solutions and find suppliers for everything: all-wheel drive, independent suspension, seat positioning... I built the rollcage myself, and Christophe tackled the body panels. It means everything is quite prototype – every screw has its own story! It was quite challenging but I think we can say we did everything ourselves. As a Ford employee, working with that blue oval on the bonnet is special. It's such a big project that in this first year, our aim will be getting both vehicles home to the finish line -that would be a big victory- and gathering as much data as possible for the future. This first Dakar will be a big general test, so we'll try to do our best."
VDR TRUCK RACING POWERED BY FORD OTOSAN
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