We’ve just popped out of the other side of a 10m sand dune in a 30t truck. The thump on the seat tells me I’ve just spent a moment in the air. I’ll be honest. It hurt a bit. My driver is neither demented or moved by the experience, he’s already looking at the […]
We’ve just popped out of the other side of a 10m sand dune in a 30t truck. The thump on the seat tells me I’ve just spent a moment in the air. I’ll be honest. It hurt a bit. My driver is neither demented or moved by the experience, he’s already looking at the next sand bank making a formidable obstacle in our way.
” Iwas almost stopped there but I knew I could use the momentum,” says Gilles Chauve, the French driver who is showing me what Renault’s Kerax can really do. ““I was always look for an exit.”
“I was a little short because I was in fifth gear but I knew the sand was soft. I could see the sand moving in the wind.”
I’m still breathless, I couldn’t believe he had time to even to glance at grains whisping on the breeze from the parapet of our 450.26 Kerax 6×6. Although I was checking my seatbelt was truly fast at the time.
“I always look at what’s happening because if you don’t, you get stuck.”
Getting stuck in the sand is not a habit that Chauve, the sort of Frenchman that embodies the grizzled spirit of the Gallic heroes in the desert that use to populate pulp fiction. In his decades of taking part of desert racing including in the world famous Dakar Rally (on two and six wheels), getting stuck in the sand is normally what other people do.
“I was out in the desert once and I warned this driver not to take on a dune and they ended up 20m at the bottom and not able to get out,” he recalls. “I had to leave them there to get an excavator so I could dig them out.”
He tells it with no irony or exaggeration. Chauve has a fun job that he takes seriously.
“You must always concentrate.”
Chauve has learnt that when it comes to dune bashing (I call it that to him a couple of time, and he replies with an non-emphatic glance) or simply driving in the desert you have to pay constant attention to your surroundings and the respect the terrain.
“You can never assume what is one the other side.”
As we roll over, face down another dune heading for yet another bank ahead, I can see what he means. We hit it seemingly dead-on but the truck powers up the other side.
“There is always a way through.”
The version of the Kerax we’re literally riding rip-shod in is not an elegant surfer. It’s a powerhouse of a machine, packing a 10.8l engine, that is pushed by a 450hp 6-cyliner engine.
It’s propped up by a set of desert racing absorbers and also has its own tyre inflation system that Chauve demonstrates can be adjusted to dot-fractions of psi.
All in, the machine costs $300,000. In this configuration it’s not a machine that will be filling many fleet inventories, however that’s not the point. Chauve is proving that the Kerax can cope with the desert and whatever can be thrown at it.
Renault – which is currently the fastest growing truck brand in the Middle East and North Africa- really thinks that the truck can be a rugged winner in the region.
“This is a racing one, this 6×6 is a special one, but we sell the Kerax construction trucks too of course,” says Marco Bonaveglio, head of marketing at Renault Trucks Middle East. ”Kerax accounts for 80% of our sales in the Middle East and that is mostly in construction.”
It has also found success with oil companies too and I’m told Renault has just had a big order for the Kerax with BGP. Using a 6×6 configuration like the one Chauve is driving, the company will send out its fleet to explore for oil in the Dammam region.
“They’ve got the same tyres and they use it to transport personnel or equipment such as cables and a generator.”
“The Kerax covers all the sillouhettes,” he continues. “You can have it as rigid, 4×2, 4×4, 6×4, 6×6, 8×4, 8×6, 8×8 – so it’s the full range. We cover normal use like you would find in Europe to extreme, like this one.”
The Renault Kerax range offers many Euro 3 engine variants that provide the ideal compromise between low-speed torque and low consumption. The offering is completed by new drive axles and double-reduction tandems for over-the-road and off-road use.