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SsangYong España together with its Motorsport team has unveiled in Madrid, its most powerful weapon for overcoming one of the most enigmatic and exciting editions of the world’s top challenging rally-raids: the Dakar Rally.

The Korando DKR will be Óscar Fuertes and Diego Vallejo’s best ally. Following success in 2018 (second place among newcomers, fourth in the T1.3 category, and 30th overall) and 2019 (third in the T1.3 category and 33rd overall), they hope to climb even higher overall in the 42nd edition of the Dakar Rally, which will take place entirely in Saudi Arabia.

After 30 years on the African continent and 11 years in South America, the 2020 Dakar Rally will move to the Middle East from 5 to 17 January with a race running from Jeddah to the country’s new entertainment epicentre: Al-Qiddiya, just 40 kilometres from Riyadh, the capital city where a rest day will also be held. The planned route will be divided into 12 stages with a total of 12,000 kilometres split between timed trials and link stages, coming in at 5,000 km longer than the last edition. On this occasion, the race will be linear, with a wide range of contrasts and landscapes: canyons, dunes, mountains, dried riverbeds…

SsangYong has been a specialist in SUVs and 4x4s since 1954, and is South Korea’s oldest car manufacturer. For this challenge, the company is stepping up with a race version of its new Korando, the mid-sized SUV that just recently arrived at Spanish dealerships. The new SsangYong Korando DKR was developed with the knowledge gained from the Spanish SsangYong Motorsport team’s experience in the last two editions of the Dakar Rally. In fact, although competing in the same category and with the same philosophy as 2018’s Tivoli DKR and 2019’s Rexton DKR (buggy, tubular chassis, 4×2, rear-wheel drive, V8 engine, sequential transmission…), the vehicle is completely new, and based on an innovative concept where each and every one of the car’s qualities and characteristics have been examined in detail in order to optimise performance under the most severe conditions.

First, the dimensions have been changed slightly from 2019’s Rexton DKR. The new Korando DKR is wider, taller, and longer: measuring 4,800 mm in length (+100), 2,300 mm in width (+100), and 2,050 mm (+100) in height. The distance between axles was increased from 2,900 to 3,100 mm, while the front and rear tracks remain unaltered (1,880 mm). The SsangYong Korando DKR’s race configuration rounds out at two tonnes, yet is capable of reaching a max speed of 195 km/h.

In order to provide maximum torsional rigidity and strength, the Korando DKR has a multi-tube chassis with integrated chrome-molybdenum cage that was welded with TIG technology. The new chassis significantly lowers the centre of gravity, increases rigidity, and reduces weight, improving the vehicle’s overall efficiency regardless of terrain, while guaranteeing performance that is dynamic, precise, and reliable.

The gasoline-powered 6.2 V8 atmospheric engine is particularly prepared for racing, and is located on the vehicle’s  longitudinal central plane in order to better distribute weight. It is equipped with a 38 mm restricted air intake flange according to FIA regulations, an indirect fuel injection system, and two parallel absorption pumps. Both the engine block and cylinder heads are made entirely of aluminium to reduce overall weight. The vehicle provides 450 HP and has an electronic throttle and double Lambda probe on the exhaust pipe, as well as an optimised cooling system to improve thermal performance.

The large number of stressors, as well as the demanding hours and kilometres that Óscar and Diego will have to cover with the Korando DKR will be made somewhat easier to bear thanks to a spacious cabin and drive position that is 15 centimetres higher than the Rexton DKR to improve all-around visibility, which is key to analysing the surrounding terrain. Special attention has also been paid to interior seals in order to limit the intrusion of external agents such as dust and sand as much as possible.

Óscar Fuertes and Diego Vallejo: Good things come in threes

With the experience they have gained during the last two editions, the goal of Óscar Fuertes, Diego Vallejo, and the entire SsangYong Motorsport team is to return to the Dakar Rally’s finish line at the top of the T1.3 category (two-wheel drive vehicles with petrol engines). “The main goal continues to be finishing the Rally and showing once again SsangYong’s exceptional reliability in a test as demanding for man and machine as this one. Reaching the finish line is a win in and of itself, and doing so for the third consecutive time is a milestone reached only by the very best”, says Óscar Fuertes.