technical problem

#Dakar 2015. All that fixing and repairing…

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How many mishaps and broken parts can one bear!?

Stage 2. We are waiting for our team mates 411 and 424 and helping them.
424 quit on this stage, the same where we spent the night outdoors.

paul-cleans-airfilter_500x280 VIDEO
Stage 2. Paul cleans the air filter.

Team mate 411 turned over on stage 3. The car was badly wrecked and beyond repairing.
Nothing to do but leave the race 😦

VIDEO (Polish speaker)
At 1:10 / Car 394 in bivouac for reparing. (Photo below)
At end of video / Car 411 after the crash.

Our car 394 had several punctuations, wishbone cracked twice, power steering broken, overheated clutch etc…
Beacause all reparations took so long 394 was late for start on stage 6, and that was the end of this race.
Later everything was fixed and the car could roll on, but only as assistant for other competitors – and for fun and training.

But look here – this is where the mechanic expert seems to be hiding!

In this rally the sweeper truck was really busy, collecting all broken vehicules from the tracks – mostly at night.

Unless even the sweeper truck needed a sweeper of its own…

s3 NY POST till 6 jan (del B), kl 23.50:

#Dakar 2015, stage 6. The End of our race

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Jan 9, stage 6. Antofagasta

End of race, it’s over now… 
The Desert Warrior lost the battle

dakar2015-s5-annie-in-tent_640x480In the morning I had my first shower in days! It was cold in a “field shower closet” but felt just wonderful. Then I ate in the canteen together with my former race mates, the bikers. Strange feeling. We race in the same competition but it’s a huge difference, I barely see them. As it happens I have my dinner from yesterday while for them it’s breakfast today. Totally different time zones, and yet the same.

Unfortunately we could not get everything ready for the days start. Too many parts were broken and too little time to repare all. It’s very sad, we worked so hard.

But Dakar is the toughest race in the world, you must manage every part of it. We had maximum bad luck, some good luck too when we could go on but did not get the last bit of good fortune.
“Dakar waits for no one” – as they say. Now we were left behind. 😦

These first days have been the toughests even when using the the Dakar yardstick. Considering that I was a rookie in car, and yet we got top 50 while 2 of 3 competitors quit already in the first part of the rally, this is for me a little victory. I was here to drive as an assistant and to learn as much as possible. I sure have learned a  lot! Every day had “extra of all” of damned technical problems, demanding driving, also tough physical and mental trials.

Paul thinks I did the driving super good, that feels encouranging and really great. I will embrace all good and bad experience, and will come back even stronger.

I’m not broken, Im eager for revenge…

Still racing on stage 5, our last to finish…

Nu är det slut på rejset…
Ökenkrigaren förlorade slaget.

På morgonen duschat första gången på ett antal dagar! Den var kall i en en “dusch”-bajamaja men kändes helt underbar. Åt sen middag i kantinen, tillsammans med mina forna tävlingskollegor, mc-förarna. Kändes konstigt. Vi kör samma tävling men det är milsvid skillnad, jag ser dem knappt. Råkar nu äta min kvällsmat för igår, medan det för dem är frukost idag. Helt olika tidszon fast ändå samma.
Tyvärr hann vi inte få allt klart till start för dagens etapp. Det var för många delar som gått sönder och för lite tid att reparera allt. Så tråkigt när vi kämpat så hårt.
Men Dakar är världens hårdaste tävling, man måste klara alla moment. Vi har haft grym otur, lite tur ändå som kom vidare, men den sista biten tur saknades.
“Dakar waits for for no one” – som de säger. Nu blev vi kvarlämnade. 😦

De här första dagarna har varit bland de tuffaste även i dakar-mått mätt. Att vi ändå med mig som nybörjare i bil klarade oss till topp 50, när två tredjdelar brutit redan inledningsvis, tar jag som en liten seger. Jag var här för att köra som team assistans och lära mig så mycket som möjligt. Det har jag verkligen gjort! Varje dag har innehållit “extra allt” av teknisk jävelskap, tuff körning, samt både fysisk och mental prövning.

Körningen har jag klarat med bravur enligt Paul, och det känns ju kanonbra och uppmuntrande. Jag tar med mig allt bra och dåligt, och kommer igen ännu starkare.

Jag är inte knäckt, jag är revanschsugen…

The camp: our service truck 736 to the left, race truck 556 in the middle. Rear part of 394 in between. 


#Dakar 2015, stage 5. Still struggeling

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Jan 8, stage 5. Copiapo – Antofagasta.
Special 458 km, total 632 km.
91 cars at start at 12:14 local time, Annie as the last about13:30.

Another long and exhausting day – and late night.
We drove quite well until check point 3. Then the gear started to mess and sounded really bad during the last 34 km, like a threshing machine. A miracle it still works at all. We prayed it would last the whole way. We drove 25-30 km/h the last part of the stage.
We reached finish at about 1 at night – at last.
Then 60 more km to bivouack. Could not make more than 50 km/h. But only a few kilometers from bivouac the gear crashed totally. Luckily some race trucks came along and could tow us the last bit. We arrived at 3:30.
And the mechanics got nightwork again changing the gear box and other fixing – hopefully they make it in time.
I am sooo tired now, and one more short night!

Between stage 4-5. Team mechanic Kev Stubbs fixing Annies 394 late at night and telling about the problems.


Ännu en lång och tuff dag – och sen natt.
Körde på hela vägen till check point 3. Där fick vi problem med växellådan. Den lät fördjävligt sista 34 km, som ett tröskverk. Ett under att den fortfarande gick! Vi höll tummarna att den skulle hålla ända fram. Körde sista biten av etappen i 25-30 km/h. Äntligen i mål ca kl 1 på natten.
Sedan ytterligare 60 km till bivacken. Kunde hålla max 50 km/h. Men bara någon kilometer innan pajade växellådan helt. So tur var kom ännu några racer truckar förbi och kunde ta oss på släp sista biten. Framme vid 3:30.
Och mekanikerna måste nattjobba igen med byte av växellåda och andra reparationer – hoppas bara de hinner.
Fyyy vad jag är trött, och ännu en kort natt!

#Dakar2015 stage 4 – over the Andes

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Jan 7, Stage 4. Chilecito – Copiapo
From Argentina climb up to 4,800 meter in altitude over the Andes to Chile. Special 315 km, total 909 km.

Dakar info:
Cars start about 14.30 (local time). 96 cars starting, 6 cars stayed in the bivouac and 2 were allowed back into the race.

No results available yet other than for the top drivers.
Seems the record system still works lousy.


A long stage and a late start means driving all night to finish.
It is also tough to cope the thin air high in the mountains, and it is chilly too.

The Dakar nightmare goes on…
We have slept only 3 hours in the past 3 days! This is killing any car driver.

On stage 4 we arrived into bivouac at 5 in the morning. The start was late, so it was an evening race – a night ride to finish.

As there was so much trouble managing the car, because the power steering doesn’t work, big muscles are needed to make a 2 ton rally car turn. My arms are not strong enough to handle the steering wheel very quickly, so Paul and I have shared driving. I ride the easier parts and Paul the tracks with lots of fast turns.

We have had lots of technical mishaps, punctures etc.

Paul hit some whoops hard, and then fixing the rear wishbone again – twice now – and we were loosing time. We have spare parts, but so much to fix takes time. Night will fall before we can continue in the dunes.

The wishbone broken – again

Now there are not many cars still racing, and we are the last to arrive to finish every night/morning. All behind us are out there stuck in the tracks.
The thin air in the high mountains and the chilly weather did not make driving easier.

Also the other cars in our team have encountered lots of difficulties.
411 turned over on stage 3 in the morning. We tried to help as soon as we got out on the road, without the time card. But the car was badly wrecked and they quit the race.
424 quit on stage 2, the same where we spent the night outdoors. Our assistance car was transporting spare wheels for them but the engine broke and the car must be left on the track.
The rally truck 566/race support/ waited for our last driver and thus arrived too late to finish and was not allowed to start the next stage.

Now only I and Paul are left of the team.
Two mechanics wait for us in the bivouac. But we barely see each other as we are on the tracks all the time. The few hours we are in the bivouac are not enough for full service, only the most urgent problems get fixed. And we feel it – the car is suffering.
This is more than maximum shit.

Annie preparing for stage 4 in the night. (in swedish)
Annie förbereder etapp 4 på natten.


Mardröms-dakar fortsätter…
Vi har sovit 3 timmar på 3 dygn! Mördande hårt i år för bilförarna.
Den tunna luften och kylan i de höga bergen har inte gjort körningen lättare.

På S4 kom vi in kl 5 på morgonen. Etappen hade startat sent, det blev en kvällstur – och nattkörning mot mål.

Eftersom det varit så mycket problem med styrning på bilen, servon krånglar, krävs det mycket muskelkraft att svänga två ton rallybil. Paul och jag har därför delat på körningen, jag orkar fysiskt inte vrida ratten tillräckligt fort. Så jag har kört de lättkörda delarna och Paul när det är mycket svänga hit och dit.

Vi har haft en massa tekniska missöden, förutom punkteringar.
Paul slog rejält i några guppar, så det blev att laga bärarmen (som håller hjulet) igen – andra gången nu – och vi förlorade tid. Vi har reservdelar men reparationer tar ju tid. Det blir natt innan vi kan fortsätta i dynerna.

Nu är det inte många bilar kvar i rejset, och vi är sist in varje natt/morgon. Alla bakom oss är fast ute på sträckorna.

dakar2015-s2-rallyraiduk-dw411-vurpa_540x540Våra team-kompisar har också haft stora problem.
Bil 411 voltade på morgonen s3, som vi försökte hjälpa efter att vi äntligen kommit ut på sträckan utan tidkort. Men skadorna på bilen var för stora så de bröt.
Bil 424 bröt under sträcka 2, då också vi blev kvar ute över natten.
Vår assistansbil skulle köra ut däck till dem men motorn havererade så bilen måste lämnas kvar därute.
Teamets tävlingstruck 566/racesupport/ väntade på vår sista förare, och kom därför för sent i mål och fick inte starta nästa etapp.

Nu är det bara Paul och jag kvar i teamet.
Två meckar väntar i bivacken med stora service-lastbilen. Men vi ses knappt eftersom vi är ute på sträckorna hela tiden. De få timmar vi är inne hinner de inte serva bilen helt, utan fixar bara det mest akuta. Det märks – bilen börjar ta stryk.
Överjävligt är ordet.

#Dakar 2015 stage 3

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Stage 3. Jan 6, San Juan – Chilecito (542 km, spec 284 km)

Info from Team Rally Raid UK and news:
The cut-off time to take starter’s orders for the third stage was set at 12:12 local time. Many vehicles spent the night on the route of the second stage, and arrived first this morning (tues). More than 30 cars were not able to start this 3rd stage.

DW 394/Seel should start after only 2 hrs service after arrival in the morning into the bivouac.

Interesting info from
Cars at Start Podium: 137 / Reporting to 3rd Stage: 134 / Began 3rd Stage: 100 / Completed 3rd Stage: 82.

Finished stage 3. (Position around 100?)


Don’t know how classifikation works for us. But we got checked in bivouac at last, in the morning, so no worries. And also got all roadbook for today, so we continue.

s4-handmade-timecard_650x1000There was a big confusion on the restart – a total chaos. The starter said we could go, but refused to give us the time card because we were late from stage 2. I said he should give it anyway, even if we will be penalaized. But he sent us off on the stage without it, thus the record shows “no starting”.
We got the mess sorted out later and got a new start with card and everything.

I even had to use a handmade card to start (photo).

This stage also took very long time. And we had not slept much in the past nights…

No final results yet, Dakars record system works lousy. Very confusing.
More info coming when available

VIDEOS from the past days
Annie describes the hardships of the crazy stages 2-3 of Dakar rally 2015 Jan 5-6. (in swedish)
Annie beskriver de galet tuffa dagarna 5-6 januari 2015 av Dakar-rallyt.


Team mechanic Glen Thompson waits for Annie early in the morning, and tells about problems with the car etc. (in english)
Vår mekaniker väntar i ottan på Annie, och berättar om bilproblemen.

#Dakar2015, stage 2 – like hell

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Jan 5. Villa Carlos Paz – San Juan

Just gått i mål. En helvetes-sträcka!
Samma som dödade min motorcykel i dakar 2011.

My feshy face

Första 400 km körde jag kanon. Fast vi fick ligga bakom våra andra förare och det gick långsamt. Sen kom de sista 100 km med bara fesh-fesh vegetation, sandspår och alla satt fast.

Driving in the terrible fesh-fesh:

Vi hjälpte våra andra förare i teamet, så till sist började kopplingen att slira. Paul försökte fixa men den funkade illa pga det tunga underlaget. I ca 100 km kämpade vi, blev även bogserade av en annan tävlande, tills det var bara 40 km kvar, där vi blev fast i en uppförsbacke. Kom inte vidare och måste sova ute.
På morgonen hade kopplingen svalnat och funkade lite bättre. Fortsatte sedan med stort besvär. Släppte ut luft ur däcken för att klara sandbackarna uppför.


Tyvärr fick vi ännu fler problem på sträckan. Inte bara kopplingen pajade. Också servo-styrningen gick sönder, det blev nästan omöjligt att styra. Paul körde och använde alla armkrafter för att ratta. Kanske därför vi råkat ut för alla missöden. Vi fick också både punktering (se bild), bröt bakre bärarm och satt nergrävda i fesh-fesh.

Vi klarade oss till bivacken först på förmiddagen 6 jan ca kl 11. Och vi får fortsätta till etapp 3!!! Har 2 timmar för service, sedan på’t igen!

Rolling okay at start. Photo by RallyRaid UK

Just finished this stage – it was like hell. 
The same stage that killed my bike in dakar 2011.

The first 400 km I drove just great. But we had to stay behind our team fellows and it went slow.
The last 1oo km was fesh-fesh vegetation, tracks in sand and everybody got stuck.
We helped our mates but then the clutch slipped. Paul tried to fix it, but driving was heavy in the sandy tracks. We struggled hard on about 100 km, got even towed by some other car to some 40 km from finish – then we got stuck on a sandy track uphill. Could not proceed anymore, had to spend the night outdoors.


In the morning the cluth had cooled and worked a little better. We went on with great effort. We also let air out of tires to make it upphill in the sand.
And more problems: power steering broke, almost impossible to turn. So Paul had to drive, we only had time to fix the clutch before restart.
In stage we also had flat tyre, broke a wishbone, and got stuck in the fesh-fesh. All adding up to another late finish. Paul was really tired after musceling the car without power steering.

We arrived at the bivouac in the morning. And we can continue to the stage 3! We have 2 hours for service, then we hit the road again.

Broken wishbone

Many riders are gone, others are going on…

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Annie & Garry #366 were unfortunate in this rally, as the engine died just after finishing stage 5.
So was our team mate #386 Yasir & Lauren, the gear box broke half way on stage 5.

But our Team XtremePlus is still in the race! The cars #350 William and #364 Nicolas & Sebastien, are stable on positions around 48-50.

dakar2014-polaris350_340x200 dakar2014-polaris364_340x200
#350 William (solo) #364 Nicolas & Sebastien

dakar2014-truck552_640x420#350 had problems with the front suspension on stage 7. #364 tried to help but luckily the truck came to rescue – again – so everybody could continue. But they finished a little too late. It was very windy and dusty.
It seems they are driving together and thus “sharing” the codriver Sebastien, as William drives solo.
The truck #552 (Piana, Cangani, Trote) is also still in the game, position around 42. 

Recently noticed:
There are a couple of Estonian bikers doing quite well. Nice to see other riders from northern Europe in Dakar! These Dakar rookies are #117 Meeru, pos 42, and #133 Triisa, pos 59, both taking it easy and safe – very wise.

dakar2014-bike117-meeru_220x200 dakar2014-bike133-triisa_220x200
#117 Mart Meeru #133 Toomas Triisa

Good luck to all of them, and the others struggeling in the dunes and mountains , enduring heat, sandstorms, cold, rain… and even suffering from painful injuries.


Day 5. Out of race

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The mechanics were still working this morning to repair the car. But we ran out of time, the start control closed at 9:05. 

Sadly, we are now out of race.
– Engine won’t turn. Piston rods big end ceased, overheated brakes etc. Cause of death: hole in oil line. –

smiley-big-cry_150Garry and me are sobbing and having the “post mortem” talk. He is devastated, this was his go for a dakar finish, and we know that we could have made it when it was up to our ability and race strategy. “The turtle” failed us as victim of the “fesh-fesh death”.
My first withdrawal ever.

dakar2014-byggy-repair-top_640So disappointing for both of us not to continue the race. Just because of a bloody little hole, that we fixed out there on the course. But later it caused the major engine breakdown.

dakar2014-byggy-repair-under_640Our mechanics had a very busy night as also our team partner world champion Nico Duclos was towed in with a broken gearbox.
The same problem hit Yasir Saedan earlier on this stage.

Garry and me slept only 2 hours but were ready to take off on stage 5 at 7:30. But the time was too short to make all repairs, it’s not allowed to change the whole engine like on bikes.
Below: Dakar rules 32P Engine change


We also had a coffee session with #320 Chicherit’s codriver Brucy – their car went up in flames completely.

So we’re better off, we still have a buggy (yet in pieces). 😉

VIDEOs by Marie Hessel (images are screenshots).
1) Annie tells about the terrible stage 4 at 3:20 in the morning, after 20 hrs riding in the car (swedish)
* Also on


2) Annie in the morning about failing to start stage 5 (swedish): “nobody gives up the dakar dream…”
* Also on


Bye bye “Turtle buggy”! #366 crossed out.  And we are as cross as two sticks.