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Old 02-01-2014, 01:55 PM
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Knaur Knaur is offline
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When the truck was on the special stage, the service crew were not allowed to support it. Should anything break, the race crew had to fix it themselves. “The Dakar is as much about problem solving as it is about driving,” says Mark Cullum. On a supersized truck, this was no easy task – replacing a punctured tyre was a huge ask of an exhausted trio.

There’s no dispensation for amateurs – everyone faces the same stage. While the leading contenders, including former World Rally Champion Carlos Sainz, complete the stage in a handful of hours, the Race2Recovery truck would take all day and most of the night. The mechanics would then set to work in the early hours, while the crew tried to snatch some sleep.

The rest day in Salta, Argentina, was the first target for every competitor. The organisers were concerned that last year’s Dakar was too easy, so they made this year’s event much tougher. Maybe too tough: by the rest day only 53% of those who started were still in the rally.

Co-driver ‘Baz’ was working with a bomb disposal team when he was blown up in Afghanistan four years ago. His pelvis was shattered and he lost his left leg below the knee. “There were some tough times, but it’s also brought some opportunities,” he says. “Lying in a hospital bed they told me there was a good chance I’d never walk again, but here I am doing the Dakar.” On the road liaison stages, Baz would often drive the truck, relieving Cullum and Ratter.

The Dakar rules are less restrictive than the World Rally Championship’s, so the engineers have the freedom to dream up some eccentric creations. Carlos Sainz’s Red Bull buggy was a personal favourite, although it didn’t last the distance. Mini’ locked out the podium overall held seven of the top 10 places, even is ‘Mini’ is a bit of a fib – they’re as big as a BMW X5.
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