The Renault Duster Team was able to match the pace of the quickest cars on the way to Villa Carlos Paz, but it then had to wait for a few days before getting back among the front-runners. The Renault Duster was very much at home in the dunes and the fesh-fesh, and helped Emiliano Spataro and Benjamin Lozada to shine in the Atacama desert.
The best Argentinean team in the 2015 Dakar was just outside the top 10 two days running, but they lost time in the first part of the marathon stage due to damage to a suspension wishbone. Without the help of the Renault Duster Team technical squad, Spataro and Lozada worked all night to restart the next day and reached Iquique to take advantage of the rest day.
“I’m really disappointed that we lost time as we were very well placed in the overall classification,” said Spataro. “But that’s the Dakar. We had a problem ; that could happen to other entrants tomorrow. The important thing is that we’re still in the race and we’ll continue to fight to make it to Buenos Aires.”
José Garcia and Mauricio Malano were 25th overall after the fifth leg, but had to retire when they arrived in Iquique in Chili. In the dunes the Renault Duster co-driver suddenly felt a searing pain in his back. The crew preferred to stop and ask for medical assistance. Malano was transported to hospital to undergo examinations. His situation no longer gives cause for concern.
“The team’s very satisfied with the first part of the race,” added Christophe Chapelain, the Renault Sport Technologies Competitions Manager. “We’re having a pretty tough Dakar with high temperatures. There have been a lot of retirements in the car category. The Renault Duster is showing enormous potential for a car that’s taking part in its first Dakar. Emiliano Spataro fought like crazy to break into the top ten. His aim is now to pull off a few coups and to amass experience and data on the return leg to Buenos Aires !”
The survivors still have to cover five legs between the Chilean town of Iquique and the Argentinean capital, Buenos Aires, a total of 1476 timed km.