Wave of success at 2017 Dakar Rally: All top ten winning vehicles use GKN components
There is undoubtedly no other rally event in the world quite as merciless towards man and materials as the Dakar Rally. Thousands of kilometres along unmade roads, through different climate zones and across sand deserts relentlessly expose every weakness, especially in power trains. That is why most teams rely on GKN driveline components. The race results after 12 different special trials and a distance of more than 2,900 kilometres validate their decision: all top ten vehicles in the car class place their trust in GKN.
This fact is remarkable on its own, so it is all the more significant that the top ten cars feature different vehicle concepts, which impose an extensive variety of requirements on their design:
The three-time winner Peugeot opted for a buggy, for instance. These vehicles use a rear wheel drive only, which offers maximum spring deflection and reduces the vehicle weight significantly. The joints have thus been designed for GKN side shafts: plunging joints on gear and fixed joints on the wheel side, which weigh very little and allow extreme bending angles. These joints also offer the advantage of relatively low running temperatures with a special grease developed by GKN also helping to reduce heat.
Finishing in 7th and 10th place, Mini opted for four-wheel drive. The design requirements for all-wheel drive vehicles and the shorter spring deflection make GKN VL-RF joints first choice. To offset the concept-related weight disadvantage in 4x4s, these joints are weight-optimised and positioned on GKN intermediate shafts made of steel smelted in a double vacuum. This design ensures optimum strength combined with a low weight while deep drill holes reduce weight in the shafts even further.
The Dakar Rally can quickly cause fatigue in prop shafts, especially in all-wheel drive vehicles. That is why Mini chose GKN shafts, which feature greater resistance to fatigue thanks to the use of specially alloyed tubes.
Coming in at 4th, 5th and 9th place, Toyota designed its Hilux pick-ups in a similar way to Mini. It therefore also chose the time-tested GKN plunging joints on the gear side, which were adapted to the different balance on the Hilux.
Obviously, other positive factors such as luck and the drivers' outstanding performance played a role in the excellent results. However, such a remarkable outcome would be hard to achieve without the technical know-how of GKN experts.
The Dakar Rally has conclusively demonstrated that there is currently no better expertise than GKN's in motor sport, series production or on the spare parts market.