Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Ignacio Corcuera’s Dakar 2024 truck a former snowplow, firefighter trainer

Ignacio “Livingstone” Corcuera will return to the Dakar Classic for a third time in 2024, but has swapped the Toyota Land Cruiser for a Mercedes Unimog 424. While Dakar Classic vehicles typically have unique histories as they must be built prior to 2000, meaning they tend to be restorations of former Dakar Rally challengers, Corcuera’s Unimog has a background in public service.

The Unimog is based in Bilbao like Corcuera and his Equipo Euskadi 4×4 Dakar Team, where it served as a snowplow for the Province of Biscay. At the time Corcuera purchased the truck, a driving school had been using it to train fire brigades and firefighters.

Even under personal ownership, Corcuera continued the Unimog’s philanthropy by bringing supplies to Ukraine. He has made four trips there since the invasion began in 2022 with the most recent in February, and another round is set to take place in October once the truck is in race condition. His efforts are in partnership with Ukrania SOS and the Sociedad Geográfica La Exploradora’s (Exploradora Geographic Society) Eutsi Ukrania programme, both overseeing transport of humanitarian aid between Basque Country and Ukraine.

After Dakar, he hopes to bring the truck on a globetrotting journey akin to the book Around the World in 81 Days, written by the late journalist Manu Leguineche and based on Jules Verne’s work.

To get the truck race ready, his team had to reduce as much weight as possible, such as replacing firefighting components with rally-specific parts. The axles are also wider to allow for more stability under higher speeds than it was originally designed for. Other upgrades are to meet standard FIA safety regulations.

The Unimog has especially large wheels that require a ladder to climb along with portal axles, which Corcuera told La Cadena SER allows it to go over larger obstacles like rocks and ditches.

Corcuera competed in the main Dakar Rally in 2012, 2013, and 2015, but retired from all three. When the Dakar Classic was introduced for 2021, he entered in a 1980 Volkswagen Iltis and won the H1.2 class for pre-1986 4×4 cars; he acquired the car from a musician who used it for film production before putting up for sale upon retirement, which Corcuera then purchased and restored. The following year, he brought a 1975 Land Cruiser BJ40 to the Classic and finished fifty-first in H1.

The 2024 Dakar Classic begins on 5 January.