Astara Team will field a trio of cars at the 2023 Dakar Rally as Óscar Fuertes Aldanondo returns to the team while Carlos Checa Carrera and Laia Sanz have joined in, as previously reported in October. All three will pilot a Astara 01 Concept, which is relatively the same from the version used at the 2022 Rally save for differences to improve its performance and environmental footprint.
The 2023 Astara 01 Concept is 1,590 kg without fuel, making it lighter than the 2022 counterpart’s 1,621. Such a reduction was also taken by Audi Sport for their RS Q e-tron E2, which sheds much of the weight from the 2022 car. Unlike Audi, the 01 Concept still retains its shape for the most part.
In dropping weight, the 01 Concept gains speed with 450 horsepower versus 380. It is also capable of carrying a spare tyre if necessary.
The car is also more dependent on e-fuel with 90 percent of its power consisting of it. By comparison, the 2022 01 Concept used 70 percent.
Sanz is a Dakar Rally star on two wheels before switching to a car for the 2022 Rally, where she finished twenty-third overall in a Mini Cooper for X-raid Team. Likewise, Checa was a MotoGP veteran and former Superbike champion before entering Dakar for the first time that same year, though his début for MD Rallye Sport was marred by a wreck.
“Last year was just a contact point. Now, with Astara Team, we have the means to aspire to more ambitious results,” said Checa.
Maurizio Gerini follows Sanz from X-raid to be her co-driver while Marc Solà Terradellas works with Checa. The latter, a former bike racer, is familiar with navigating for T3 cars such as Antonio Graña Murado’s FN Speed Team Can-Am at the Andalucía Rally in October. Solà also won the Sportsman Stock UTV class at the 2019 Baja 1000 as co-driver for Oscar Ramirez. The two replace Jesús Calleja in the lineup.
“I am very excited to be part of this project, with a much more sustainable vehicle, a team concerned about reducing and offsetting its carbon footprint and committed to diversity,” Sanz commented. “I am confident that Maurizio and I will do a great job, and so will the whole Astara Team.”
Fuertes finished thirty-fourth overall in the Astara 01 Concept in 2022. Diego Vallejo, the brother of Spanish Rally Champion and Dakar newcomer Sergio Vallejo, returns as co-driver.
“I’m very excited to be back at Dakar Rally, which is always a huge challenge, but we are ready to overcome it with flying colours. Besides, I have my co-driver Diego Vallejo on my right and that gives me extra confidence,” Fuertes stated.
The 2023 Dakar Rally begins on 31 December 2022.