The Swedish team Pewano never got the chance to show their full capacity during the world’s toughest race – the 2012 Dakar Rally. Half way into the first special, the violent fire forced Alfie Cox and Jürgen Schröder to abandon the PEWANO XC60 RR.
“The car went up in flames, there’s nothing left”, says Hans Sönksen, Team Manager of Pewano. He continues: “We are terribly disappointed and sad. We knew this would not be easy, but that the car would catch fire, was not even a conceivable scenario. During 14 days of racing you always have to be prepared for mechanical problems, but since we had all the necessary fire equipment and had secured all flammable material – even in our wildest imagination – we had not been able to predict this.”
It was during the first stage between Mar del Plata and Santa Rosa de la Pampa, after a couple hours of faultless driving, that something went wrong. With the car gutted by the flames, it’s not possible to determine what caused the fire, but we believe that a leak in either the powersteering pump or one of the hoses in the powersteering system was the cause.
“We were racing at the pace of the front-runners, the car was absolutely stunning. I did not have to fight to keep up the speed, and I enjoyed every moment of the drive as the car was so easy to control. About 30km into the stage, the power-steering failed and the next moment my side of the car was engulfed in flames. We immediately tried to extinguish the fire, but it was just not possible. Fortunately we managed to escape from the burning car; however the entire team is really shaken-up and very, very disappointed”, explains a devastated Cox.
For the last couple of months everyone in the Pewano team has worked day and night for this race, and to see the car get burned into ashes – there’s only one word to describe the overall feeling: emptiness. Everybody associated with the project stand equally heartbroken. We were set to bring the car to the finish in Lima, regardless of results, and now we are deprived of that opportunity.
Despite the violent fire, both Cox and Schröder are unharmed. Cox remarked: “It could have been much worse, the most feared moment for any racing driver is to be caught in a burning vehicle, we escaped and we are shocked, and disillusioned, but otherwise fine. I feel truly sorry for the team; they worked really hard in preparing the car. Now we will re-group, and plan our way forward.”