Wednesday, June 19, 2024

1987 Argentine Dakar team joining 2024 Antarctica expedition

Throughout its history, the Dakar Rally has run through deserts, jungles, and along coasts. Next February, a contingent from the first Argentinian Dakar Rally team will drive on a much different terrain as they head to Antarctica as part of the “Expedición Antártida Argentina 2024” (Argentine Antarctic Expedition 2024).

In 1987, the first Misión Argentina al Dakar (Argentine Mission to Dakar) took place with Oscar Safar and Daniel Buteler driving the #237 and #238 Renault 18 Break 4×4s. Both cars were assembled in Argentina, making the team an all-Argentine effort; other team members included José Bordas, Daniel Gil, Oscar Gómez Comelli, Alberto González Virgili, Luis Romero, and Carlos Sarthe. The #238 retired after the right front axle shaft came apart and destroyed the wheel while racing through Algeria, and a debate between the team members eventually settled on bowing out of the rally entirely by also withdrawing the #237.

After returning home, the #237 was temporarily put on display at the Museo Juan Manuel Fangio; Fangio, a Formula One legend, was one of the lead ambassadors for the Dakar project. Neither vehicle exists in their original form as one was re-converted into a civilian car before getting stolen in 1990 while the other was decommissioned in 1999. Consequently, the car heading to Antarctica will not be the original Renault but a tribute restoration that will briefly drive on Marambio Island (also known as Seymour Island); Marambio is the site of an Argentine research station, one of thirteen operated by the country in Antarctica.

To survive in the Antarctic environment, the Renault 18 will have snow tracks and a modified transmission system. Testing will take place beforehand to ensure carbon and noise emissions do not disrupt the continent’s ecosystem. The Argentine Air Force will fly the crew and car in via Hercules C-130.

Similar projects were previously undertaken using Turismo Carretera stock touring cars in 2011 and 2022.

Scheduled for 22 February 2024, the expedition is intended to celebrate the 120-year anniversary of Argentina’s first territorial claims in Antarctica.