20 Questions with Claes Blomquist
Inventor Racing Team
Thank you kindly for taking the time to write to us Claes.
Where is the team based and how did it get its start?
It is based on the West Coast of Sweden, in a place called Vårgårda
situated 60 km east from Gothenburg.
In reviewing your website (www.dakar2003.nu)
it looks like the team's been rallying for quite some time. What other vehicles
have you raced, and in which races?
- Claes: In a Volvo C303 in the 1989 Dakar together with Ivan and at
a rally called "Transylvania Trophy" 1994, also in a Volvo C303.
- Ivan: Dakar 3 times (-89, -96 and -97) and also at the Atlasrally
- Mikael: Endurance circuit racing, (Swedish Endurance Racing Cup)
with a Volvo S40, rear wheel drive with a 6-cylinder double turbo engine from
the Volvo S80.
Many of us on the site enjoy the Volvo Cross Country as a versatile every
day vehicle with a bit of light off-road here and there. Why did you choose the
Volvo Cross Country to race the 2003 Paris-Dakar Rally?
Because it's a cool car! It has got a tough look, I think it's the most beautiful
car Volvo has ever made. The body is also more aero dynamic and not as heavy.
Concerning the framework, the shafts and the wheel suspension we are using well-tried
machinery from the Volvo C303, combined with the new technology i.e. the engine
and the body.
In real life, what car is your daily driver, a Volvo perhaps?!
Well, I'm driving a VW Transporter. Shouldn't maybe, but it has got a generous
The Paris-Dakar Rally is well known for being one of the most demanding
races on earth. How does one physically prepare for such a race?
Physically, well.. of course it's important to have a "normal" physical
condition, but that's important for everyone. More important maybe, is to be
mentally prepared, for example by watching videos from other teams participating
in Dakar and maybe go to a desert for some test-driving. Myself i have working
several time i Africa with special off-road trucks drilling equipment.
I realize this may require an enormous answer but in general, what are some
of the considerations that need to be made when creating a vehicle specifically
designed for the Paris-Dakar event?
Most important is to consider power and reliability before speed and "cool
features". We have a saying in Sweden that says: "it's better to hurry
up slowly". There are two ways in building a rally vehicle - either to build
a speed racer which endurance probably wouldn't be enough or to build a car with
availability performance, strong and safe. But of course, we are participating
to compete, so we will only slow down our speed when necessary.
Over the years, we've seen footage of some vehicles catching some serious
air over the desert dunes. I've always wondered if this was deliberate or a mistake
on the part of the driver! Care to comment on this?
It's both deliberate and mistaken. Sometimes, there is no other option then to
catch some air so therefore, the cars are built for doing this. But of course,
when the sight is reduced to almost zero due to darkness or a situation compared
to be snow-blind, there can be unintentional "air adventures".
What vehicle will you be using as a support vehicle?
It will be a small or a big Volvo Truck, which model is not decided yet.
How many tires will you go through during the course of the race, and how
many will you carry on the car at any given time?
We will always have two spare wheels onboard of the racing car. Generally, you
don't wear out the tires in a desert, so those two are in case of other emergencies.
We have not yet decided which tire we will be using, we have to carry out some
What's the fuel capacity and range of the vehicle?
About 400 litres capacity. The rule says that we should be able to go 800 km
Judging by the photos you've provided, there's been an enormous amount
of work done on the car thus far. If you don't mind me asking, what's the approximate
cost of all the modifications done to the car so far, and what's the end budget?
|The budget for the racing car is almost
||900 000 SEK
||(92 000 $)
||500 000 SEK
||(51 000 $)
|Entry fees for the team
||460 000 SEK
||(47 000 $)
||40 000 SEK
||( 4 000 $)
|Fuel (5000 litres per vehicle)
||200 000 SEK
||(20 000 $)
||50 000 SEK
||( 5 000 $)
||2 150 000 SEK
||(220 000 $)
How many hours of work do you expect to use getting the car ready for
About 2000 hours.
Was the car purchased or donated by Volvo, and what sort of support have
they provided to this point?
Volvo supported us with a V70 XC 2001, we are also promised to get help with
parts and also some know-how from the development departments.
Is this the first time a Volvo Cross Country has been used for the Paris
Yes, what we know this should be the first time.
What sort of unique challenges have you encountered in converting the Cross
Country to a Paris-Dakar contender?
I haven't seen any yet. But two main issues are the roadclearance and the space
for the driver.
What engine and drivetrain will be powering the Cross Country to victory?
The engine is the new common-rail D5 diesel from the S80/V70/S60. The regulation
demands a 39 mm restrictor for the air intake to the turbo, because of this we
need to re-optimise the programme for the engine management system. We plan to
take out 240 horsepower and a torque of 425 Nm. The powertrain consists of a
five-speed gearbox and a synchronised transfer case from the 6-wheel C303.
After pulling the car entirely apart, what's you opinion on the build
quality of the Volvo Cross Country?
I don't have any experience from dismounting this kind of car, it's some plastic
details in it. But generally, the quality is very high!
When and where will the vehicle be field tested?
First we will do some test in a local gravel pit, and then we hope we can use
Volvo's testing ground Hällered. Then in September or October we will go
to Spain and maybe to Marocco for testing in the heat and the real rally environment
and we will also utilise some sand beaches in Denmark.
Who are your sponsors?
The main sponsor is Autodesk and
also other companies like Rånäs
Bilfjädrar, Uni Kardan and 3D Connexion.
Aside from this website, where can we find out more about the team and
We are about to change the
website into English and then try to update at least once a week.
Thank you kindly for your time Claes!
We look forward to tracking your team's progress, both to the starting AND