View Single Post
Old 02-01-2014, 01:53 PM
Knaur's Avatar
Knaur Knaur is offline
Super Moderator
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Punjab
Posts: 10,361
Knaur is on a distinguished road

Each day on the Dakar is broken up into road or ‘liaison’ sections and a special stage. The distances are extraordinary and fatigue is one of the biggest challenges facing every crew. The total distance for this year’s rally was 9,209km and the longest special stage for the cars measured 694km.

Stage two of the rally, from San Luis to San Rafael, was the first significant test and introduced the sand dunes that are a signature feature of the Dakar. Sadly for amputee driver Tony Harris and co-driver Quin Evans, it was to prove their undoing. Harris misjudged a razor-edge dune and rolled his Wildcat end-over-end. The car landed on its wheels and they were able to continue to the stage finish but the mechanics discovered irreparable damage to the rollcage. They would go no further.

On the same stage, the second Wildcat, which was driven by team director Ben Gott and co-driven by amputee Philip ‘Barney’ Gillespie, was also forced out of the rally. The car had experienced overheating problems on day one and these continued on the second day until the car suffered a broken head gasket. It was assisted by the Race2Recovery truck but had to retire.

With both of the team’s rally cars out of the Dakar, attention focused on the truck. Instead of needing to support the rally cars it would now be free to run its own race. Inside were a crew of three: driver Mark Cullum is an off-road expert who once finished second in the famous Camel Trophy; co-driver Chris Ratter is an ace mechanic and successful amateur rally driver, and amputee Corporal Daniel ‘Baz’ Whittingham assisted with navigation and controlled the on-board tyre inflation system – a crucial tool for navigating soft sand.

Life in the bivouac is hardly glamorous. The top teams and drivers enjoy luxurious motorhomes, but everyone else kips on the floor in pop-up tents surrounded by a cacophony of generators and power tools. After a while, these tents start to feel like a protective cocoon and it’s amazing where you can sleep when you’re exhausted.

The Dakar often looks like a scene from the movie Mad Max. There are all sorts of weird creations, from tiny Polaris buggies to the bespoke trucks, which look downright terrifying.
The wisdom of the ancients has been taught by the philosophers of Greece, but also by people called Jews in Syria, and by Brahmins in India
-Megasthenes, Greek Ambassador to India, 300 BC

Why is it that on June 4th 1967 I was a Jordanian and overnight I became a Palestinian? - Walid Shoebat, PLO terrorist
Reply With Quote