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Dakar Rally as the Birthplace of Modern Throttle Valve Bearings

By Bearing Manufacturer>Bearing News>Dakar Rally as the Birthplace of Modern Throttle Valve Bearings

It has now been three decades since a pack of sporty Volkswagen Iltis all-terrain vehicles raced on their way to victory during the 1980 Dakar Rally, at the time still a new event. The Iltis (German for the European polecat) had become well-known in Germany because of its use in the German military, and Volkswagen and Audi engineers took advantage of the all-terrain vehicle?s rally start to develop what is today its legendary Quattro drive. And this victorious rally operation also marks a highly successful time for engineers of the Schaeffler Group. The 1980 Dakar Rally is generally regarded as the beginning of the throttle valve bearing, a machine component that the Schaeffler Group has produced millions of and holds several patents for.

The tasks of Schaeffler bearing specialists were perfectly clear: Find a solution to prevent the fine Saharan dust from causing throttle valves to jam, which made drivers involuntarily gun their cars. The solution they found was a specially sealed needle roller bearing with a compact design that now has long been considered a standard component in automotive manufacturing.

The solution found for crossing the desert not only made it possible for the rally armada to avoid defects, but also paved the way for significant progress in terms of safety and fuel savings. The danger caused by throttle valves that jam while they are open is a thing of the past. And it wasn?t until low-friction bearing supports were invented for the throttle valve shaft that idle speed could be reduced in a controlled fashion. While idle speed often exceeded 1,000 rpm until the early eighties, speed levels today are as low as 600 crankshaft rotations per minute, resulting in significant fuel savings.

It is just those small, seemingly unimpressive and unimportant components like the throttle valve bearings manufactured by the Schaeffler Group that make electronic ?by-wire? throttle valve controls possible, which have been the standard for a long time.

It has been a while since throttle valve bearings had to be sealed just against desert dust and other dirt particles.

These days it is important to protect the engine from secondary air and to keep away the pressure peaks originating in the combustion chamber. The specially sealed needle roller bearing is an essential component for modern turbo engines, and this bearing also plays an important role in exhaust gas recirculation.

These high-precision components are airtight, both in the event of excess pressure and vacuums. The seal on both sides is particularly heat resistant. Special non-corrosive materials make the bearings resistant against fuel, mineral oil, grease and acidic ?blow by? condensate. They are suitable for operating temperatures ranging from -40 to +150??C. And thanks to their integrated seals, no additional sealing actions must be considered during design.

Even though throttle valve bearings are small components, they represent just one more example of the role motor sports can play as a development lab. So far, INA has produced over 450 million of these throttle valve bearings in various sizes. Every single one of these reliable components is checked to ensure the reliability of its pressure seal prior to delivery. It should come as no surprise then that the current rally vehicles for the 2010 Dakar Rally are all equipped with sealed throttle valve bearings.

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