Compromises are not an option for many of the customers and motorsport teams that choose Lazer products. This is no truer than for the Dakar Press Team: the team that provide photography, film and written footage of the competitors in action at the toughest rally on earth: The Dakar Rally.
So on a dry and mildly warm day in October, James and I are heading to our Stevenage based manufacturing plant to meet The Dakar Press Team Captain Léon Jansen to set up two of the four press fleet with Lazer Lamp lights.
We have worked with the Dakar Press Team for some time now and year-on-year the event that they cover astounds me. Whilst driving to Stevenage I contemplate this. The conditions, the event, the coverage is all quite simply epic. Last year there were five teams running our lights in the Dakar, this year there will be at least seven teams using our lights, that we know of. To provide a bit of background to the importance of lighting at an event like the Dakar Rally, for anybody on the Rally the element of risk has to be minimised to ensure that movements on the tough and harsh terrain is completed safely and to the highest level. Reliability is key, without the lights the expedition becomes even more challenging and really dangerous. The event itself represents an exceptional challenge for both the competitors and vehicle.
The Dakar Press Team do not take their task lightly and James and I knew that rigging the vehicles with the best product for the role they play in order for them to do the job they do was paramount. So we set about making sure that their European prepared Volkswagen Amarok Dakar Proto was kitted out accordingly.
We met Léon and Paul at the factory and got to work going through the unique lighting plan we had put in place for them over a cup of coffee. Whilst we chatted about the plan we talked some more about their role on Le Dakar and the team completely relying on the vehicles, a Volkswagen Amarok Dakar Proto and a Toyota Land Cruiser 105 Dakar Xtreem. As the team is completely self-supporting, the preparation of the vehicles is crucial. Failure is not an option: the competitors want their action captured whether it is day one or day 14. As the team spends a lot of the time driving the Dakar stages in the dark there was no pressure on us then……
Two T-16′s on the front bar
The 12-strong Dutch crew will report on the famous Dakar rally for the 11th time in 2014. Their prime role in Le Dakar is to capture the best photographic shots. Leon explained to me during the fitting that to do this they have to find not only the best but the right vantage points and be ready for action well before the competitors arrive. In order to succeed at their job they have to stick to a tight schedule of leaving the bivouac in the late evening and driving throughout the night to arrive at their chosen vantage point to capture the action. The pace is clearly relentless and is kept up for the entire 14 days of the rally.
James started fitting the T-16 whilst I focused on the roof mounted ST-8s. The products were mounted in the best and correct positions on the VW Amarok taking in to consideration the limitations that we had to work around.
In the past the lighting and number of lamps that could be placed on the Dakar Press Teams vehicles was restricted by the power they consumed. There is much more to be powered, than just the lights. For instance, the camera and laptop batteries have to be continuously recharged, without these the team cannot function. LED lighting has a much higher efficiency than traditional lighting. The amount of light which comes from each Watt of electrical power is the key to the success of the LED. A halogen lamp operates at around 20 lumens per Watt (lm/W). High Intensity Discharge (HID) has an efficiency of around 40 -50 lm/W. Lazer Lamp’s lights currently operate at around 80 – 90 lm/W, their low comsumption means that the Dakar Press Team can maximize the light without compromising the other systems on the vehicle. The Lazer Lamps are also very compact so there was no trade-off for location on the vehicle when it came to finding the optimum performance.
We always receive excellent feedback from the drivers using our lights. The combination of light which is close to the color of daylight and lots of it, is very attractive for drivers who are running through the night. Our lights are E-marked and designed for both 12V and 24V systems so can be used on a whole host of different vehicles for night-time driving. Currently we know of seven teams who will be using our lights in the 2014 Dakar, but we expect this to increase.
After a good day’s hard work fitting out the vehicles we waved goodbye to the team. The Dakar Press Team depends on good lighting and the Lazer concept fits right into the team’s strategy: no compromise!
Now we look forward to following the Rally in January, it’s always a highlight in our calendar.