Renault has upgraded its Duster for 2016 Dakar Rally scheduled for 03 – 16 January, kicking off from Buenos Aires, Argentina. The line-up will include two SA-built Dusters entered by Renault Sport Argentina.
The 2016 Renault Duster has once again been built by Thompson Racing, and was shipped to Argentina for testing in late-November.
The changes are significant: there’s a refined front suspension design and along with improvements to the tubular ‘spaceframe’ chassis (which comprises some 80 metre of chrome-moly tubing) have resulted in a lighter yet stronger car.
The body panels, previously made from fibreglass composite, are now moulded from carbon fibre.
The total weight saving is in the region of 100 kilograms. All-up weight, ready to start the race, will be in the order of 1 900 kilograms, a large percentage of that coming from the 450-litre fuel tank.
The powertrain comprises a 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine from Renault partner Infiniti, producing approximately 235 kW at the wheels. With a longer engine air intake system along with revised electronic engine management means it’ll now have more low-end torque than before.
It also has a larger radiator (cooling proved to be marginal on some stages this year) and the gearbox – a six-speed sequential unit – has been moved backwards for improved weight distribution of the all-wheel-drive machine.
The new Renault Duster also features air conditioning, and a number of refinements have been made to the cabin to reduce fatigue – a major factor in an event during which the crew may spend up to 50 hours ‘in the office’ at race pace, tackling some of the planet’s most challenging driving conditions.