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Astara Team to field dual female driver lineup at 2024 Dakar Rally
Astara Team will field two 02 Concept cars at the 2024 Dakar Rally, both with female drivers in Laia Sanz and Patricia Pita Gago. Maurizio Gerini and Paolo Boggioni will respectively serve as co-drivers.
Sanz will run her third Dakar in a car after being the top female bike rider at the race in the 2010s. She and Gerini joined Astara for the 2023 race, where they were set back by early wrecks that relegated them to sixty-fifth overall. The duo finished twenty-third in an X-raid Mini at the 2022 race.
Since Dakar, Sanz has been focusing on the Extreme E Championship for ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team. Entering December’s season finale in Chile, she and fellow Dakar competitor Mattias Ekström are leading the team championship with two wins; ACCIONA | Sainz is co-owned by Ekstrom’s Dakar team-mate Carlos Sainz.
“It is an honor to race for the second year with the Astara Team,” Sanz commented. “The vehicle’s evolution is a significant step forward. It is 100% emissions-neutral, lighter, and has better performance. With effort and persistence, we will achieve what we set out to do.”
Pita made her Dakar début in 2023 after enjoying success in South American rallies. Racing a Can-Am Maverick in the T3 class for Proracing Competition, she finished thirty-sixth. By joining Astara, she will move up to the Ultimate (formerly T1) category.
“Participating for the first time with a team of this level is an unimaginable dream,” said Pita. “It is a tremendous opportunity to have Laia as a team-mate and to learn from her. Dakar teaches us that we set our own limits, and passion and perseverance can take you wherever you want to go.”
The Astara 02 Concept, which compete in the T1.2 subcategory for 4×2 prototype cars, is a variant of Century Racing‘s CR6. It continues the trend of losing weight as it will be 1,580 kilograms without fuel, a reduction from the 1,590 of the 2023 01 Concept while its 2022 counterpart was 1,621 kg. The car will use ninety percent synthetic fuel, an increase by twenty percent from 2022; synthetic fuel is carbon neutral and more efficient than standard gasoline.
The team fielded three cars at the 2023 Dakar Rally for Sanz, Carlos Checa Carrera, and Óscar Fuertes Aldanondo. Checa finished thirty-second while Fuertes retired after two stages. The latter currently serves as team director.
“We are very excited about this year’s improvements,” Fuertes added. “Not only have we made tremendous strides in sustainability, but this year we will be more competitive than ever.”
The 2024 Dakar Rally begins on 5 January.
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