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ABB partners with Maxxis Dakar rally team to complete one of the world’s toughest endurance races

Technique goes hand in hand with safety and durability

Driven by the need for durable and resilient racing equipment, one Dutch driving duo turned to ABB to deliver critical power cable and connection protection to help them successfully combat one of the world’s most extreme races – the Dakar Rally.

Traversing 9,000 km over South America’s most dangerous terrains, filled with dunes, rocks and mud, the Dakar Rally is one of the world’s biggest off-road endurance events. However, with racing in their blood, thanks to their father, Tom Coronel Sr., twins Tim ‘Alfa’ and Tom ‘Romeo’ Coronel teamed up with ABB and successfully conquered the 12-day challenge in early January this year.

Building their own buggies, the pair knew just how essential it was to be able to rely on their equipment, and so turned to ABB’s specialized heavy-duty automotive cable protection brand, Harnessflex, and to the heavy-duty ABB cable tie, Ty-Rap, for solutions.

From Supaseal backshells to NC conduits, the Harnessflex team from ABB specified and installed a full cable and connection protection system for the buggy. The design guaranteed the most reliable electromechanical performance under the notoriously demanding operating conditions of the rally.

Tim and Tom Coronel with one of their Maxxis off-road buggies.

During the race, sand was far and away the biggest challenge the drivers faced, as it can wreak havoc with electrical power connections in the engine. It even has the potential to cause the engine to completely fail if sufficient sand ingress occurs in the key electrical connections. However, the reliable Harnessflex specialist conduit system was well placed to deliver more than the level of protection needed, ensuring that all connections and cables were adequately protected and not left exposed.

Capable of withstanding the ever-changing climate of the track’s varied geography, which ranged from sea level to more than 3,000 meters (9,750 feet), and from soaring heat waves to torrential rain, the system operated effectively, protecting against liquid ingress, mechanical abrasion and cable strain.

In addition, ABB’s Ty-Rap high performance cable ties provided the perfect fastening solution for the Coronel brothers’ performance. With its high tensile strength and engineered materials, the cable ties are resistant against continuous sunlight, extreme temperatures and flame exposure. The stainless steel locking device also provides maximum protection and with fewer stress points along the cables, and the smoother ribs and stipples prevent wear and slipping caused by vibrations.

“The Dakar Rally is the ultimate endurance race, and it proved to be the perfect platform to demonstrate the sheer durability and versatility of the Harnessflex cable protection range, as well as its ability to routinely perform under pressure,” said Simon Frei, head of the project management team that oversees the ABB Harnessflex line.

“Given the demanding environments the teams and their cars faced during the 9,000 km journey, ensuring key electromechanical power connections were appropriately protected meant the difference between success and failure,” Frei noted. “We were thrilled with the results, and our bespoke system really looked after Tom and Tim during the race and put them in good stead to take on this iconic motorsport challenge. We hear their next challenge is to be the first 100-percent electric drive team to enter and finish the Dakar rally — a mission we’d love to get on board with.”

The grueling 2017 Dakar track started at Asuncion, Paraguay, then thrust hundreds of drivers and motorcycle riders into the mountainous, desert-laced terrain of western Argentina and Bolivia before dropping to sea level for the finish line at Buenos Aires, Argentina. Altogether, the drivers and their vehicles navigated six days of terrain above 3,000 meters, including a series of dunes at more than 3,500 meters (11,375 feet), after crossing the dusty lowland tracks of the Chaco desert.

The Dakar Rally started in 1978 with a 10,000 kilometer (6,200 mile) track from Paris to Dakar, the capital of Senegal. Political instability in Mauritania forced the cancellation of the annual rally in 2008. It has been held in South America every year since then.

For more information on ABB’s specialist range of cable protection systems for the automotive market, please visit: http://new.abb.com/low-voltage/products/conduit-fittings/harnessflex.