Rally Albania 2011-0606 Start; 1:42 min, Podium, Annie @ 0:20-0:30 (teve, albanian reporter, music)
Albania11_1.mpg; 5 min, Startpodium, Prologue,
Annie @ 1 min, in the crowd to the right (a glimpse). @ 1:10-1:40 riding on the podium. @ 2:30 behind #186 Lelle Johnsson starting (a glimpse).
Albania race_2.mpg; 4:30, Views along the stage
Lelle @ 2:30-2.40
Well I can say I did it again. I finished the gruelling Dakar despite all kinds of unfortunate happenings.
The first week my strategy worked out pefectly. I had been running my own race, riding and navigating very well, but also pacing myself for the second week. The longer stages leading in for the rest day I started gaining time and positions. At rest day I could summarize a comfortable position as 38th general and leading the Womens class by 1.30 Hours. I felt ready for the second week, only my motorcycle had an engine change because the dust fesh-fesh is really eating everything inside.
But then my luck turned bad. Really bad. And the shit hit the fan.
In the evening of the rest day I started feeling sick, and during the night I had fever and bad diarrhea. At breakfast I could eat nothing, and had to make many stops during the morning liasion. At the start of the stage I feelt very unfocused with shivers, and my aim was just to get through the stage. To make things worse, my clutch malfunctioned half way into the stage, which made me suffer even worse in the most technical stage of the Dakar this year – a trial section climbing up and down some mountains with cracks and slippery sides, and really slow riding in narrow canyons. It had been a difficult stage for me even being fit with an intact bike – now I was totally out of strength, and when the bike stopped uphill and I had to turn around, and try start without cluth I almost gave up so many times… To handle the bike in this slow and gnarly terrain with no clutch and a dimmed focus of high fever – I cannot believe I even finished it! The doctor at the finish arranged for german rider Tina Meier to accompany me to the bivouack in case I got even worse. So thanks to everybody helping me.
At the bivouack I arrived almost unconscious with bad shivers and fever of 39,7 C, and was immediately taken care of in the medical tent. For many hours I had IV of antbiotics and other substances to take control of my condition, and the doctor told me this was the end of the race for me. But you know me – next morning I saddled up again, weak but determined to ride to the finish.
But in a sense this is where I left “walk over” in the race for victory, I knew I could not perform at my best and had lost a lot of time and momentum. Now my focus was just trying to make it to Buenos Aires just to keep my rate of 100% fulfilled rallies intact.
Still I tried to ride my best, actually mananging to pick up some speed and made some good stage results even if I stopped longer at refuels to see the doctors and fill up with energy drinks as could still not eat anything. The Copiapo dunes I really enjoyed, which rewarded me with a 36th position that day.
Next day through the Fiambala dunes I was still holding 35 position when my electrical system completely died. Nothing worked on the bike, and I stopped for a long timetrying to find a solution. Finally a fellow rider helped me start the bike and I could continue, but with no navigation instruments it was a challenge to find the good way to the end, and I mostly followed the tracks. This rendering I made the same navigation error as all the previous motorcycles had done – I followed a riverbed too far and then when turning back I unfortunately sunk my bike half way in the very wet and soggy mud. It took me some time and effort to pull the bike out of it, being alone and still quite weak.
Until now all the hardship had not quite broken my spirit, and still I was holding second place in the Womens class.
But on stage 11 disaster really hit me. Starting back in the field, carving through endless of the dangerous fesh-fesh, through rocky canyons and across a mountainpass of more than 3000 m, at km 179 my motorcycle died. As I had passed over the 3000 m mountains, I felt the engine loosing power more and more. Coming down to a very hot valley the engine was almost powerless, and I sensed a smell of oil. As I let off the throttle the motor died with a bang. I looked down and saw all the oil had pushed out from the oil seal by the gearshifter.
For a while I thought “End of bike, end of race”! But maybe someone could tow me… or if I found some oil.. #55 Kemal Merkit stopped and offered a slab of oil, and a lift to get help to push start the bike. I fixed the leaking oil seal, some locals provided with more oil, and finally after adjusting valves the engine was running again. I felt like MacGyver! But I had to ride slowly not to create any oil pressure, and I stopped many times to check oil and water level. And yes, I had no clutch today either.
I almost had the finish in sight, when the engine died again at the check point only 22 km from the finish – I started crying. The engine was steaming hot and leaking oil. I had to stop and let it cool down, pouring water on it. As the sun was setting the bike started but running very badly, and I prayed it would last the remaining 22 km. After 7 km I caught a slow truck, and as I tried to slow down before overtaking in the narrow track, the bike died on me. Again I broke into tears – why couldn’t it run for just the few kilometers – I felt so hopeless.
The bike was impossible to start again. The last biker that passed was so tired he could barely keep his own bike up. Now it was dark night and I was gazing at the stars – thinking I would have to push the bike to the end. Cars and trucks were still passing so my rescue was to get a jump start. Since the engine had now cooled down it started, and it ran very heavily and was noisy. I managed to ride almost all the way before it stopped and had to be pushed the last bit while my tears were running with anger, but I made it!! At 2 am I arrived in the bivouack, and my team hastily started changing the engine back to the one I used the first week. Meanwhile I tried to get my 2 hours of sleep before the next start.
As soon as I took off on the penultimate and very hard stage starting with 70 km of very soft and energy draining sand, I felt I had to ride gentle on the engine because it was also not running well. This showed to be a very good decision as the stage got worse, through some really muddy streches and endless of heavy fesh-fesh filled tracks, putting a lot of strain on the engine. Also I managed to get deeply stuck in a mud rut, and the only person who could drag my bike out of it was #5 David Casteu who was running behind me due to mechanical problems. ( Thanks David, you are a hero!) The last part of the stage I was running slowly, and I could see the oil was starting to leak also from ths engine. Late night I arrived to the bivouac and now I had no more engines to use.
The final stage started really bad. My Sentinel system was malfunctioning, so I lost 30 minutes at the morning start when the officials tried to get it workning. Also my clutch ceased again and now my biggest fear was that the engine was going to cease already on the 500 km morning liasion as I had to ride at 120km/h to make my start before the cars. Worried I started to cry while riding, I could not believe how many ways this Dakar had gone wrong. And still there was a long day to reach the finish in Buenos Aires.
The last special stage was only 180 km on fast track. I took off riding at a moderate pace and the engine was running quite ok. I thought me and the bike would make it… until it stopped only 2 kms from the end. I could not believe this was happening! Luckily #180 Sulem stopped and towed me the last bit (including 2 falls) to the finishline, where I jumped off and pushed the bike across and then let it fall on its side and me standing on it like a dead horse. Then Sulem towed me all the way to Buenos Aires. (Thanks Sulem, this is Dakar friendship!)
What a victory – to get that dead bike across the finishline! Defying all the hardship served to me the second week. And to still have a 100% finishing record is also a victory!
I’m just so disappointed I could not race for the win in this Dakar. But this is why the Dakar is the Dakar. There are so many factors that can go wrong, and you need to get all of them right to win.
Also know there were so many other good riders who suffered from all kinds misfortune – some of them didn’t make it to the finish.
Many thanks to everybody during Dakar that has helped out, fellow competitors (Pedro Bianchi Prata, David Casteu, Emmanuel Sulem, Kemal Merkit, Mathieu Serradori, Tina Meier, Christian Califano, Daniele Carmignani, Pederzoli, and more that i didn’t get name/numbers of)) officials, spectators. Truly this is what makes Dakar a special race – the friendship.
Thanks to my sponsors: Elmborgs Tandvård, KTM, Team Meca’System, Lindroths Maskin, DekkPartner, Michelin, KlarSynt, Lelles MC, IVVAB, Karnag, Exclusive Cars, Toppmontage, Kå-Hå’s bilplåt & lack, Bosse Carlsson, Segway, Jonotech Maskinservice, Real Wear MXW, Mattssons Smide, Safari tanks, ProService, Öhlns, MotoSpeed, Loctite, Art’n’Dito, HotSnacks, Shore AB, Coaltrane Products, Andres Åkare, Oljecenter i Vedum, MotoAventures, Endless Brakes, Prins Dirty Parts, EMX Racing, Arnalids Salong och Carrera Sunglasses.
And all my supporters, that bought Dakar-kilometers.
And my dear friends & family who are always supporting and helping..
On the podium. Standing on the dead bike! The bike broke totally only a few kilometers from finish… it had to be towed to the finish arena and pushed up on the podium.
Iréne Crona from the swedish embassy meeting up with flowers!
The arrival was more spectacular than glorious … but isn’t that a halo shining around a saint’s head 😉
Lots of supportive fans surrounding – greeting, comforting, asking for autographs, giving small presents.
But no prize – the dream of winning the Ladies class turned into dust, literally, and sank deep in the mud.
A fan, Oviedo, gave me a nice “prize”: the Argentinian flag and a photo from the rally start. 😀
På podiet. Stående på en död motorcykel. Hojen brakade ihop totalt bara några kilometer från mål … och måste bogseras till avslutningen på arenan, och knuffas upp på podiet. I videon syns lite.
Iréne Crona från svenska ambassaden mötte upp med blommor!
Ankomsten var mer spektakulär än lysande … men är det inte en helgongloria som lyser kring huvudet?
Mängder av stöttande fans samlades runt om – hälsade, tröstade, bad om autografer, gav små presenter.
Men det blev inget pris – drömmen att vinna Damklassen förvandlades till stoft, bokstavligen, och sjönk djupt i lera.
En beundrare, Oviedo, gav mig ett fint “pris”: argentinska flaggan och ett foto från rallyts sart.
It’s like the whole bike is cursed! The problems with the engine still remain. Leaking oil, overheating… Also the irritrack is out of order. Must stop after wp1.
This stage was very long and tough and muddy after the rain in some sections. I could ride only very slow to spare the engine. It took almost 12 hrs to get through the special.
Reached the finish a quarter past midnight on pos 92 (?).
Det är som det låg en förbannelse över hela hojen! Maskinproblemen kvarstår. Oljeläckage, överhettning… även transpondern/irrritracken har krånglat. Blev stående efter wp1.
Etappen var mycket lång och jobbig och geggig efter regnet på en del avsnitt. Kunde sedan köra bara väldigt långsamt för att skona motorn. Det tog nästan 12 timmar att klara specialen.
I mål kvart över midnatt som 92a (?).
Leaving the snow and cold winter in Sweden, my boyfriend Henrik and Marie Hessel waved me off at Arlanda Airport.
Marie made a quick interview at the airport.
Look at my new shiny rally jacket! Big hugs and thanks to my sister Eila who sew on every sticker during christmas, a perfect christmas gift. She made a fantastic job!!
Take a close look approx 3.50 min into the film, I’m celebrating on the podium. But be careful you dont miss it…
Video-interviews from the Dakar 2010… gives you the feeling of the rally.
“The bike was in flames”
“A true Dakar day”
“I’ve been eating everybodys dust”
“I dont feel like dying today”, interview same morning I crash into the tomb! Freaky!
“I use earplugs not to hear anybody”
During the Dakar I met the Mujeres Tuercas Fanclub a couple of times. They are a bunch of “motorhead” girls cheering me on in the rally, waving the big yellow banner with “GO ANNIE” written on it during stages.
Now they made this slideshow! I am so happy to have these friends, so far on another continent – but so close in my heart! (You can join on Facebook too!)
The pint-size* rider Annie Seel appears at about 3.20 min into the film.
* Definition “pint-size”: little, very small, especially smaller than usual or than expected
I can’t believe it is already Christmas, and soon Dakar again.
And I will be on the starting line… Despite a tough year through economic crisis and physio therapy.
Bike & Team 2010
I will again ride my KTM525, aka “Super Rocket”, in team Meca’System, a very professional team I trust, and we will in fact be the biggest team represented in the Dakar with 10 bikers and 4 on quad.
The bike is due to small size budget recycled from my Dakar 2007 bike, upgraded with a new engine from KTM and some other parts from Meca’System. Big thanks to main sponsors by Team Meca’System, DekkPartner/Michelin, KTM, Elmborgs Dental & Lindroths Machines.
Australasian Safari Rally
In august I was invited by Aussie Garry Connell, team boss Husaberg Rallye Australia (who is also racing Dakar 2010), to come and have a go at the Australasian Safari. Also thanks to the Octagon race organisation this long time dream of mine became true (already in 2001 I wanted to go down under).
Not only was this my come back after the Dakar, it was also the premiere of new Husaberg 570 in a rallye. After a week of some really tough rally stages, including a stick piercing my boot and leg, I finished 16th – and we had 4 Husabergs in top 20. What a success!
Big thanks to Husaberg Rallye Australia and Octagon for a fantastic experience – I’ll be back! www.australasiansafari.com.au
EcoEnduro & Trial
This autumn I have ridden a little enduro and also tried trial for the first time properly. Really super training, need to get a trials bike next year.
And I have also been part of a new page in motorcycle racing history. I raced in the first ever FIM Ride Green Eco Enduro. The wolrd’s first ever international electric enduro race, held in Copenhagen during the UN Climate Change Conference, in good company with racing stars like former 5 time MX World Champ Joel Smets… Congratulations to Fabien Planet, crowned the first Eco Enduro Champion!
I must say it was a new sensation racing around in silence through the woods, like going to a rock concert but no-one turned on the volume!
Big tanks to Danish organisers and Ivan Reedz-Thott. www.ecoenduro.com
Image: Joel Smets & Annie Seel
Follow my progress…
Now it is all final prep for Dakar, the start is 1 Jan, finish 16 Jan.
Follow my progress in Dakar here on this blog and also on my other web http://www.annieseel.com and the page Hang-out!
Press & Media contacts during the Dakar: Marie Hessel +46 702-23 86 36, email@example.com
Warmest thanks to all my sponsors, supporters and friends during the year
Wishing you all Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year.