A Spanish Pilot Wanted To Use A Smart Car In A Deadly Off-Road Race

dakar rally smart fortwo

Photo: YouTube Screenshot

Entrants in the Dakar Rally, one of the most gruelling and dangerous races, tend to take on the desert route in cars made for driving in tough conditions.One man wanted to do it in a Smart car.

José Luis Álvarez, a Spanish pilot, took a Smart Fortwo and customised it for serious off-roading capability. He put the car’s body on the chassis of a Polaris XP 900 side-by-side ATV, and added a 900cc engine that produces 90 horsepower, according to Digital Trends.

But even with the sponsorship of Feber, a Spanish toy company, Álvarez was left about €17,000 ($22,552) short of the funds he needed when another sponsor dropped out. Without the money, he could not get the car and his team to the race’s departure point, in Lima, Peru.

To raise the cash, the team asked for public donations, but fell short of its goal (Álvarez will return the money that was donated). On the Smart Dakar 2013 website, he thanked his supporters and sadly admitted defeat, writing, “We have no choice, we love to dream.”

Given that Álvarez already has the vehicle he wants to race and is clearly motivated to take on the route, it is a good bet he will make another bid to get to South America for next year’s race.

Originally known as the Paris-Dakar Rally, the event began in 1977 as a race through Africa and Europe. In 2009, the race was moved to South America because of security concerns.

This year’s route goes down the Pacific coast, into the Peruvian desert, over the Andes Mountains into Argentina, and then back to the coast before concluding in Santiago, Chile.

In its 35-year history, the rally has led to deaths of about 60 people, fewer than half of whom were competitors.

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