With YouTuber Misha Charoudin among the drivers, the audacious first-generation Dacia Logan did not only compete but managed to successfully finish the race, much to the delight of everyone in attendance.
In the world of endurance racing, the most famous competition of all takes place at Le Mans. It’s a grueling race that gave birth to famous rivalries such as the battle for supremacy between Ford and Ferrari that took place in the 1960s.
Although not as popular as the aforementioned contest, the 24 hours of Nürburgring is by far the most difficult and spectacular endurance race of them all. It takes place in Germany, on a combination of the Nordschleife and the Grand Prix circuit, amounting to over 15.5 miles (25 km) of dangerous twists and turns. Each year, more than 200 cars and over 700 drivers participate, few of which manage to cross the finish line.
This year, among the sea of Porsche, BMW, Audi, or Mercedes touring and GT cars, a small Dacia Logan competed in the legendary race. If your first reaction is: “a small what?”, it’s understandable since Dacia is only a household name in Europe, where motorsport is the last thing it’s associated with.
The Romanian brand is a Renault Group subsidiary that markets some of the most affordable vehicles one can buy on the continent, and the compact sedan called Logan is their cheapest offering. Launched in 2004 in its home country, the car eventually made its way to bigger markets such as France and Germany, where it was surprisingly successful.
Apparently, there are people out there who, for whatever reason, saw race car potential in this tin can on wheels. One of them is YouTuber, driver, and Nürburgring fanatic Misha Charoudin who, along with the team at Ollis Garage Racing, has extensively modified one intending to compete in the fearsome 24-hour race.
The little Dacia’s stock 1.6-liter unit was swapped with a 163-hp Renault Sport 2.0-liter, the braking and suspension systems were also heavily modified, but the gearbox is a conventional five-speed manual, albeit not the factory-fitted one. Inside, everything that was deemed unnecessary was stripped out, and to meet safety regulations, a racing seat, steering wheel, and roll cage were installed. Outside, a small wing was fitted on the trunk lid to improve the wacky racer’s disastrous aerodynamics.
Donning race number 118, it did not finish the qualifying session because of some technical issues, but the mechanics worked hard, and the Logan was ready to go for Saturday’s main race. By now, everyone watching the race was talking about the outrageous sedan which had become a cult hero seemingly overnight.
Out of the 121 cars, the Dacia entered the race from the last starting position. Driven by Charoudin, Ollis Garage founder Oliver Kriese, Michael Lachmayer, and an enigmatic fourth driver known as Doom, the slowest vehicle in the competition by a large margin found itself in the 105th position after 6 hours of racing. Unfortunately, due to the dense fog that settled in on the Green Hell, the red flag was waived, and the race was stopped for 13 hours. Upon resuming, the car continued to soldier on, while the no. 1 Rowe Racing BMW M6 GT3 shared by Philipp Eng, John Edwards, Nick Yelloly, and Nicky Catsburg was in the lead.
As the final three hours passed by, numerous incidents made the race even more spectacular. The second-overall, no. 4 Haupt Racing Team Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Maro Engel at the time crashed out of the race, and a few laps later, the leading BMW went into the pits and never made it out due to an electrical issue. That left the no. 911 Manthey-Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R of Kevin Estre, Michael Christensen, and Matteo Cairoli in the lead, a position they held until the end. The fan-favorite Dacia Logan finished 98th, ahead of the no. 142 Porsche Cayman, the last car to make it across the line.
Initially, nobody took it seriously, but the crazy little car proved that it can hang with the big boys by completing 142 laps and winning everyone’s admiration in the process.