Annie Seel åter på startlinjen i Emirates Desert Championship.
Dubai, 8 Nov 2016
Nu på fredag 11 november är det dags för deltävling två i Emirates Desert Championship. Och det är dags igen för Annie Seel att tävla i ökenrally. Hon har fått förnyat förtroende av Saluki Motorsport att köra i deras team. I första deltävlingen körde Seel en Ssangyong Musso och lyckades ta en tredjeplats i bilklassen trots lite tekniska problem.
Denna gång kommer hon att köra en Polaris RZR i buggyklassen.
– Jag är så glad att få komma hit igen. Teamet tyckte jag gjorde ett bra jobb förra gången, och erbjöd mig nu att testa deras Polaris som de håller på att utveckla. Jag har en del erfarenhet i en Polaris från Merzouga rallyt och Dakar 2014, men jag har inte åkt den här versionen som är lättare och mer sprintpreppad, berättar en förväntansfull Annie Seel.
Buggyklassen är största klassen vilket kommer att innebära ett större motstånd. Värsta motståndaren kommer från egna teamet, där Salukis teamchef Mark Powell själv vann förra tävlingen. Men en annan toppförare i Polaris är sugen på revansch då han rullade i premiärrundan. De flesta kör utan kartläsare i sin buggy för att spara vikt, vilket Seel också kommer göra nu.
– Det ska bli kul att få testa att köra en ny klass. Jag var imponerad av hur Mark flög över sanddynerna i sin Yamaha buggy förra tävlingen. Mitt mål är att lära mig av honom, och kanske lyckas hänga på om det går. Dock, den Polaris jag kommer köra har inte den värsta fjädringen, så jag kan inte hålla full fart eller hänga med toppförarna, förklarar Annie Seel vidare.
Saluki Motorsport är baserade i Dubai och är specialiserade på att bygga och anpassa tävlingsbilar för ökenrally. Teamchefen Mark Powell har många års erfarenhet som bilbyggare och förare. Dessutom har han en 23e plats i Dakar 2015 som codriver åt polske Marek Dabrowski.
– För oss är det en tillgång att ha förare med Dakarrutin i vårt team. Annies mentalitet att alltid lösa problem är viktigt när man ska utveckla och testa bilar. Hon ser även små detaljer som kan vara de avgörande svaga punkterna. Det är den erfarenheten man får under långlopp som Dakarrallyt, menar Mark Powell.
My car is out of race, but I still participate in the rally… as the supervisor of Team XtremesPlus’ mechanics! 😉
The poor guys have a lot to do, all night long.
This is after stage 12 on the bivouac.
And a view from above over the finish area of stage 12:
Now only one more stage tomorrow…
I’ve learned a lot about racing a car in Dakar. Many riders think the courses, so far, have been very difficult.
But we feel the driving has been okay. Sure, very long days but not too tough. And the navigation worked perfectly. Garry didn’t have any problems at all driving – he used his head, chose the best tracks, no stucking in sand. He really has the capacity needed to finish Dakar.
The reason for us quitting was simply a technical matter, a minor glitch that caused a major breakdown. So unnecessary and unfair. But, that’s Dakar…
Garry: “This is what stopped us, a chaffed $50 external oil feed line to the oil cooler !!!!
If you have any, and I mean ANY weak links in either yourself, your race vehicle or your assistance team, preparations or strategy, Dakar WILL find them and your rally will be over!”
|Checking everything from top …||… to bottom.|
There are other severe conditions during this race, causing problems.
The weather has been extremly hot, around 40 C. Several contestants have suffered from heat exhaustion and dehydration. Some accidents probably are the consequenses. Even deaths have hit competitors, journalists and spectators lately.
A top biker #5 Chaleco Lopez fell from an edge in a river bed, the bike crashed, thus out of race. Luckily no bad bodily injuries.
He was my Honda team mate in Patagonia rally 2005.
San Juan – Chilecito. First a 211 km timed section, then a 111 km neutralised sector raced at a link section pace, and then another timed section 205 km long. Specials in total 657 km. Highest point to reach is at over 3200 m.
“The longest special stage since 2005 for the cars and a really demanding route in the countryside! Rivers and canyons will offer terrains with interesting possibilities to overtake fellow competitors!”
Standings this stage: pos 83, 12:21:39 (+7:01:07)
Total pos 75.
This was a nightmare stage! Never ending course, in total 868 km. Mainly the same track as in 2011 when I got big problems – leaking oil and engine stopped.
Already at 133 km the engine stopped, loosing all oil. We worked hard to find the leak. It was 35dgr, the sun burning, we stood in a dusty floodbed. The engine is cramped for space, hard to get hands on the problem. Our team partner Yasir passed by, but couldn’t help.
At last the “angel of salvation” team boss Marco Piana came in his rally truck #552, also our service truck just in case. After a long time we found the leaking oil line. We fixed a bypass disconnecting the oil cooler.
Then we could get on the road again, but very slowly so the oil wouldn’t overheat. We were rolling quite well even when it got late night when approaching the finish.
But the last waypoint was tricky! Many cars and trucks were driving around lost in the darkness. Really no fun, we just wanted this to end. And we did reach the finish at last, then only 167 km connection to drive. But after only a few km all oil pressure was gone. Luckily Marco was just behind us and towed us to the bivouac.
So great to have a service truck of your own, always taking you home! I wish I’d had one when racing alone on my bike encountering all those mishaps.
We arrived at the bivouac around 3 in the morning.
Bodily damage: my butt was quite sore after this 20 hours sitting on a bumpy ride.
The mechanichs did their best to fix the oil line and engine, all night and morning.
Too bad Yasir must quit the race halfway of the stage due to broken gearbox.
San Luis – San Rafael, SS Cars 433 km. It’s been long and tough for most competitors. Quite speedy tracks and parts through rough stone areas and over great dunes.
Annie & Garry finished the stage at about 21:15 local time, timed on the special stage 8:31:35 (var +4:39:30). Position 83.
Annie: “Only 50-60 km into the stage we got a flat tyre, and then another… we have only 2 spare wheels. So we had to slow down and drive cautiously, the stones are very edgy and hidden in the sand! Then there was that really nasty fesh-fesh, that blew all over us – everywhere – couldn’t see anything.
And then 40 km from finish one more flat tyre. So annoying, but we managed to fix one of the other flatties with a vulcanite plug.
Many riders stood along the track with flat tyres, including our team mate Saedan. One car was totally burnt out, also a truck upside-down in the ditch.
This track was in the same soft dunes where I fell badly in 2009, broke my nose and got the handlebar bent – then it was raining and hailing all night. (*)”
Look back in this blog 2009-Jan Dakar:
Anticipations on this day – before start. Video transmitted by Marie Hessel:
Photos by Judith Tomaselli
Rosario – San Luis, SS 180 km
Cars #366 Pos 86, time 3:10:04 (var 0:49:28). 5th in buggy class!
Annie & Garry are in a good mood and have done well, in spite of some problems with brakes. They got lost early in the stage, and Garry must adjust his driving, using the motor to slow down the speed.
So, it was quite exciting as the stage was rather difficult.
Connell/Seel: “Splendid stage! The terrain was like it is in Australia, in the Safari Rally. Stones, narrow, sinuous… It was awesome, I had so much fun! We passed Robby Gordon twice, and also Ronan Chabot, it was fun! Only our brakes suffered due to the hot temperature and of all the braking.”
All the competitors and teams, all in all some 700 people gathered for the official competitors briefing presented by the ASO organiser Etienne Lavigne and race director David Castera.
The emphasis is on sporting conduct and safety. And of course the spirit of the Dakar rally which is important: it’s not a race, it is THE RACE!
After the briefing all competing vehicles rolled over the starting podium and made a presentation before driving a loop for the public waiting to celebrate the competitors.
Garry and I had a great drive round town, waving, honking, and I even jumped out and danced in the street for all the people. I think we got some new fans along the road!
VIDEO Dakar intro street show, cars and trucks:
Youtube.com/watch?v=hzZgxutKi8g (total 15 min) – #366 at 1:10-1:36
http://Youtube.com/watch?v=lKUvEF30SCE (11 min) – Truck #552 at 5.15
In the evening we packed everything for the race car and I made my road book, which is colouring and making notes to help me while navigating for Garry.
Now the Dakar 2014 really kicks off!
About a million spectators kicking off the greatest event of the year.
VIDEO of the Dakar fiesta (english speaker)
All the team competitors and mechanics in Xtreme Plus getting ready for the day’s administrative check and technical verification. We rolled in like a blue wave at the Casino City Center.
Competitors have to show racing license, drivers license, insurance doc, medical file, pass security briefing incl GPS information… Also mechanics have to fulfil many criteria and pass the control checking.
Vehicles are controlled for safety, like roll cage, belts, safety equipment, and that it confirms with the technical regulations.