Dakar Rally racers secured by Nord-Lock

24 januari 2012, Nord-Lock

Ginaf Rally Power Nord-Lock is a proud sponsor of Ginaf Rally Power and Berglund Racing in 2012 Dakar Rally The participants in the 2012 Dakar Rally, currently underway in South America, are tackling extreme terrain at high speeds. Two of the top teams are doing so safe in the knowledge that crucial bolted joints are secured by Nord-Lock.

The Dakar rally is the ultimate test of man and machine – 14 days and more than 9,000km of some of the most inhospitable terrain on the planet.

“The whole truck gets damaged and by the end of the race it is more or less destroyed,” says Wuf van Ginkel, veteran driver for the Dutch Ginaf Rally Power Team. “The truck must be very reliable. And one thing that gives us reliability is Nord-Lock.”

Both teams – like most Dakar participants – have experienced bolts coming loose and have suffered as a result of it. But for Ginaf Rally Power and Berglund Racing, loose bolts are one less hazard for them to think about during this legendary race.

For Sweden’s Thomas Berglund, this year is his fifth Dakar. Having finished twice – he was 19th in the motorcycle classification in 2007 and an impressive 12th in 2010, he is aiming this year for the top ten and to be the first rider ever to finish the race on a Swedish-built Husaberg bike. “The first time, in 2007, was more of an adventure but now my focus is on my own performance,” he says.

“Dakar is a unique race,” says Berglund. “You cross a continent and ride where no one has ridden before. You're riding in the middle of nowhere and have to take care of yourself because if anything happens to you, you have to fix it yourself.”

Berglund, who is being sponsored by Nord-Lock for the first time, knows all too well the importance of secure bolts in the Dakar – he dropped about 60 places last year when the bolt securing his handlebars came loose. “On the first day I had a small crash in a slow corner and I just dropped the bike a little bit,” he says. “As a result the handlebars came loose, and that made it really hard to ride. Not only was it dangerous, but it takes your focus off the race.” It was not a straightforward repair job and Berglund lost a lot of time. “I was in the top 15 when it happened but I ended up at 74 at the end of the first day.”

Had his handlebars been secured by Nord-Lock – as they are this year – this would not have happened, he says. “We used glue before but it was not enough,” says Berglund. The Swedish rider will this year be using Nord-Lock on several places on his Husaberg 450cc machine. The locking washers are standard on Husaberg and KTM bikes for mounting the gearshift pedal, but Berglund has also used them on the navigation tower – where the fairing and the navigation equipment are mounted – for securing engine mountings, the exhaust system and for other crucial applications.

In previous rallies Berglund’s mechanics had to re-glue these kinds of joints every day. But at the same time the bolts need to be removable, so really strong glue can’t be used. “Nord-Lock washers are great,” says Berglund. “They are a very technical solution but are at the same time very easy to use. If I’d had them on my handlebars last year it would have saved me a lot of time and a lot of places.”

Dakar veteran Wuf van Ginkel will be behind the wheel of his 950hp Ginaf Rally Power truck. His best result from nine starts was a well-earned fourth place in 2008, and this year he is setting his sights on another top-five finish. “Dakar is one of the most incredible races in the whole world,” he says. “For us to do it with a truck that we've built by ourselves is a fantastic experience.”

Van Ginkel has experienced bolted joints coming loose during the Dakar numerous times. “It has happened with the driveshaft but also with the wheel nuts,” he says. “Nothing has actually fallen off, but of course this gives us problems and is potentially dangerous. But this hasn’t happened since we started using Nord-Lock.”

The first Nord-Lock product used by Ginaf Rally Power was the locking wheel nuts. Flat tyres are extremely common during the Dakar race and the Nord-Lock solution means that the team has the twin benefits of a quick wheel change in the event of puncture, and the knowledge that the wheel will stay in place regardless of the abuse it takes under the 10-tonne vehicle.

Impressed by the locking capabilities and ease of disassembly, the team started using Nord-Lock washers elsewhere on the vehicle, including the driveshaft bracket, which is exposed to high dynamic loads and vibrations when tackling the Dakar route at speeds of up to 150km/h. Loose and broken bolts are common in this application if not secured properly.

Nord-Lock washers are also used in several places on the chassis, allowing Ginaf Rally Power’s service team to focus their attention on other matters. In between stages the team has to work against the clock to repair, replace and often rebuild the truck. Knowing that the joints on the cross chassis beam, the bearing block, and the steering box mounting are secure, the team can concentrate on other essential parts. Maintenance routines are shortened, and the team can get more much-needed sleep between stages.

“Previously we used glue to secure bolts, but it is not an ideal solution when you have to do quick repairs during the race,” says van Ginkel. “But Nord-Lock washers have proven to be very reliable for our very demanding applications. If we didn’t trust them, we wouldn’t use them.”

This year’s rally, consisting of motorcycle, car and truck classes, started at Mar del Plata on Argentina’s Atlantic Coast on January 1. The starting field of 465 vehicles heads through dunes and canyons and the Andes Mountains into Chile, through the heart of the Atacama Desert, to the challenges of the seemingly endless dunes of Peru to the finish in the Peruvian capital, Lima, on January 15.

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