So it could be worse….
With only three Nissans running there really wasn’t much hope of a great finish but there has been some sign of future success.
Of the three, two are still running.
The #319 of Jurgen Schroder, the most experienced and battle tested of the three teams has been forced to bow out after Stage 6. Engine issues had taken them out on Stage 5 but with repairs to the vehicle they were able to restart the race on Stage 6 to contest the 2nd half of the Dakar. It was not to be. Stage 6 saw a return of engine troubles and this time they could not be repaired. Reportedly some sort of crankshaft failure that melted a sensor (at least that is the Google German translation.
The #429 rookie team of Shameer Variawa running their Frontier/Navarra in only its second event had issues on Stage 5 that prevented them from properly finishing the stage but were still running. The effected the minimal repairs and restarted Stage 6, again with the intent of contesting the 2nd half of the Dakar which is a new rule in ‘19. Prior Dakar’s had banned racers from running at all once they failed to finish a stage. Now there is a limited, one time “restart” allowed though such racers are relegated to a different class and cannot contend for the overall win. Still Variawa is running well, finished Stage 7 in 5th out of the 24 cars restarting under these rules and stands in 10th overall for those who took advantage of this new rule.
Lastly there is the #419 of Thomas Bell. This Nissan is still running and still in the big event, not having any serious mechanical or navigational issues that put them out of the event. Stage 7 saw the South African team finish the day in 50th place and running as high as 34th. Overall they sit 54th out of the 61 teams still running (99 started the event) with two three stages left.
Overall? The two rookies are still running which is a big deal and all have equipped themselves well, showing the platform does have potential and can run in the top 30-40 in this event. Nissan still needs more entries to really be a force but as always…we’ll take what we can get.