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Voice of Users

Rally Car Management

Customer :Team Abu Dhabi

Sand flies and the car twists.
Toughbook withstands the punishment and makes you faster and smarter.

Where rallies are run, the ability to shrug off desert heat and dust makes Toughbook a well loved brand. Based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) city of Dubai and competing in the FIA Middle East Rally Championship, Team Abu Dhabi has introduced the Toughbook CF-19 to handle engine management and rally computer duties. Despite the especially challenging conditions of the desert climate and terrain, the Toughbook CF-19 has been trouble- and maintenance-free during active use at rallies in the Middle East. We visited and interviewed Team Abu Dhabi, which had competed in the finals of the Middle East Rally Championship in the end of October 2007.

Enhanced competitiveness in the Middle East Rally Championship, which is run at breakneck speed across scorching desert

Supporting Team Abu Dhabi: Toughbook CF-19

The recent finals of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship were run in Dubai in the UAE. Dubai also has good connections with Europe and is gaining attention as a great Middle Eastern resort. But if you drive out of town on the highway, about an hour later, the landscape dramatically changes. As far as the eye can see, the desert spreads. It is a shadeless world of scorching sand without relief from the relentless glare of the sun. Over terrain like this, competing as the top Middle Eastern team in the Championships, Team Abu Dhabi runs Japan-made Subaru Impreza rally cars.

The Australian manager of the team, Ron Cremen, had this to say, "Rallying is not like F1 or other circuit racing, which are run over a closed course that is maintained in good condition. No, a rally is severe test that involves a fight with nature. Come rain or storm, rally stages are hardly ever called off. When we are competing in Middle Eastern rallies, the worst enemy is sand. The more high-performance and precision dependent the devices you use, they more likely they are to get messed up by sand. The one exception has been the Toughbook; it has never failed.” Mr. Cremen, himself a world-famous rally driver in the past, is no stranger to racing from place to place in rallies in countries all over the world. He chose the Toughbook CF-19, both for its superior mobility among the field mobile Toughbook series, and because it can be used as a tablet computer. The team has been using it since the end of 2006, mounted in the car as a rally computer, and also in mechanical applications, including as the computer for engine tuning.

Team Abu Dhabi rally car, which is run across the desert at breakneck speed

Shutting out the desert sand

Collecting service data with the Toughbook.
Chief Engineer
Dwight Scott

Consisting of desert and semi-desert in an area about two hours away from Dubai by car, the terrain for the final stage seemed even more desolate with rocky outcrops rising where the fingers of mountains reached into the sand. Rallies generally revolve around points called ’Service’ which are set up to carry out maintenance of the cars. We were amazed by the harshness of this environment. Abrasive sand was even blowing into the tent where the mechanics were working. Sand was all over absolutely every last thing.

This is how Chief Engineer, Dwight Scott describes it: "The sand in a desert isn't like the sand on a beach. It's fine and powdery. You can't even grab and hold a handful. This sand gets in everywhere. The fact is that there is no practical way for us to keep it out. Amazingly, the Toughbook completely shuts out the sand. Anyway, the dust-proofing is wonderful.” The Toughbook that the mechanics of Team Abu Dhabi were handling was literally crusted all over with sand. Sand was caked on the keyboard and connecter covers. Before using it, they thought nothing of blowing away the sand with compressed air and giving it a rough wash with bottled water. This was obviously the normal routine.

The ability to absorb shock is beyond imagination

Scott added, "When we first started using the Toughbook, it was clear that it had what it takes for use in the desert. But we didn't get to find out what the TOUGH in its name really meant until we mounted it in a rally car. Even in hard rallies that caused trouble in cars that are built to be take the punishment, the Toughbook came through without a single hiccup. That wasn't something we expected from any of the computers we had used up to then.”
When the Subaru Impreza bearing the livery of Abu Dhabi finished the stage, it returned to the 'Service’ for tire changing and maintenance servicing, whereupon the mechanics went feverishly to work. Looking inside the car, I could see the Toughbook CF-19 encrusted with dust and sand. Fixed in place with a carbon fiber bracket, it was mounted on the passenger side of the dashboard, where it was within easy reach of the co-driver.
Right after finishing the last stage, co-driver Nicky Beech had this to say: "The final stage is run at the end of November, so things are still not so bad. At this time of year, the temperature is in the 30s. During mid-summer the outdoor temperature gets up to 50C. Inside the car, it can rise to over 70C. And seats in rally cars don't have the same kind of padding that normal cars have. All we get is a thin layer of sponge. So when we go over rough roads, especially over the kind of rocky terrain that we've just covered, the surface is extremely uneven and we really feel the shocks. It goes without saying that the Toughbook CF-19 is simply fixed to the dashboard without any cushioning material. Words can't describe the shock and vibration.” Mounted in the rally car the Toughbook CF-19 is a strong ally of the co-driver, who uses it during the rally for, among other things, making various time calculations.

Toughbook CF-19 mounted in the rally car.

Co-driver Nicky Beech

The Panasonic Toughbook is adored by engineers

Team Abu Dhabi mechanics doing their job at a 'Service.’

Using a Toughbook CF-19 mounted in the car, Team Abu Dhabi has qualified for Production Car World Rally Championship (PCWRC). The team got to know about Toughbook on the recommendation of a Japanese team that was already using them mounted in rally cars.

Chief Engineer Dwight Scott explained: "The WRC (World Rally Championship) rank up there alongside F1 as a top motor sports category. Among the engineers who work in this field, the Toughbook is a highly desirable piece of kit. These days cars are fitted out with all kinds of sensors and electronic control devices. Without a computer, you can't carry out maintenance. In the racing world, using the computer to make really tiny adjustments to fuel injection quantity can make the difference between victory and defeat. That's why it has become normal for engineers to frequently collect information about the current state of the car with a computer. If needed, they can instantly carry out fine adjustments. In this sense, data is important enough to make a difference between success and failure. Working with data is all the more important during competitions when the cars are separated by seconds. If all this carefully accumulated data should suddenly be lost, it would be a severe blow. You could say that for engineers working on the frontline, the laptop that they use for collecting and analyzing data in the fields is a partner second to none. An engineer just can't afford to have a laptop break on him. That's why we engineers love the Toughbook. For instance, even though it may cost close to three times more than other laptops, to use a Toughbook, many engineers are willing to buy one with their own money.”

In the future, too, the Panasonic Toughbook CF-19 is bound to lead Team Abu Dhabi to victory.

Team Abu Dhabi
Block 316, Manama Center, United Arab Emirates
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