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Aspen Pumps Group team takes on toughest race in the world

The Dakar Classic, known as the toughest motor race in the world, starts on New Year’s Eve 2022 and ends a gruelling, sun-drenched, sweat-soaked, sandblasted fortnight later. Itching to take part are brothers Pete and Chris Schey who, at 58 and 61 years respectively, are looking forward to their first Dakar. Cheering them on is sponsor Aspen Pumps Group, where Pete is Aspen Pumps Asia Pacific’s technical director. But why is he doing this?

“Why not? What driver wouldn’t want to compete on such a stage?” says Pete. “This kind of race is an enormous mental and physical challenge; it not only tests us to the limit as drivers but on our ability as engineers and mechanics.” Are they adrenaline junkies? Pete says not, but admitted they do get bored quite easily.

Boredom won’t be an issue during this endurance race where they’ll be driving and navigating 5,000km over the roughest terrain in Saudi Arabia, from the beaches of the Red Sea in the east to the sands of the Arabian Gulf in Dammam in the west. They’ll have to grab sleep when they can, be superfast at repairs and eagle-eyed at all times just to stay in the running, so ‘intrepid’ is not really a nice-to-have, more a prerequisite for this race. And Pete and Chris, racing as Aspen Team Dakar, have form.

As teenagers, aged 14 and 17, they built and raced their first sailing boat and, just four years later, they became the National Sailing champions. Pete is a former South Australian rally champion and has numerous event wins to his name and Chris, who’s a Commander with the Victorian Fire Service, has skippered yacht expeditions to the Arctic. Together they have the driving and navigational skills that are vital if you want to compete and complete the Classic.

“Driver and co-drivers need to display ability and the Dakar spirit,” said Pete. “But you also need to drive a car that has previously competed, or is a replica of one that has. Our Nissan Terrano is a replica of Nissan factory team cars from the 1993 rally. We’ve upgraded it by adding a full FIA cross country safety cage and added compartments to hold three Aspen-supplied Veto Pro Pac tool bags for survival equipment and tools.” Aspen Pumps Group has supported Pete and Chris throughout the preparation and Pete has been able to use the Sky Refrigeration workshop to build and customise the car.

To participate in this race was a dream neither of the brothers thought they would realise, but once they were in, they started training in earnest. They’ve already competed in one of Pete’s other rally cars in Australia earlier this year and, as a final preparation for the Dakar Classic they’re driving an Escort Mexico RS1600 in the Alpine Rally, a four-day, 1,000km event in Victoria, which is celebrating its historic 100th year. Meanwhile, Chris has had the Dakar navigation equipment set up in his road car all year, which he practises using on a daily basis.

They could enjoy a rest after their ‘road trip’, but no, they’re planning to contest some other cross county events in Spain, Morocco and Italy.

Bonne chance Aspen Team Dakar!

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