Monday, 24 March 2014

Tuareg Rally 2014

16 riders from the UK, Sweden, and Japan went with Torque Racing to the 2014 Tuareg Rally. It was good to see the truck, some of the riders, and service team that will form the 2015 Dakar team at the event.

Day 1 - Thrown into the deep end with a long day of small soft dunes. Never ridden in sand this soft. Couldn't get a rhythm going and was like Russian roulette never knowing if you were going over the bars or not on the next dune.

Day 2 - Took it easy and finished early. The day included a steep down hill rocky section which saw many a rider take a tumble.

Day 3 - Had no sleep the previous night with dodgy guts and basically just got through the day saving my energy for what I knew was coming on day 4. Again finished early.

Day 4 - Never ending laps of whoops, camel grass, and the bigger dunes. Was in my element and knew that a good day here would put me in the top ten. Going really well when 10k into lap 2 my clutch started to fail and I had to nurse the bike round the course. Got back to the service area, changed the clutch plates, and headed back out for the 2nd half of the day. Completed the 4 laps but was some 25 minutes late at the final check point. Gutted! Was 16th overall at the end of the day.

Day 5 - Upped the pace to get to the Sillies Pass (rocky and twisty hill climb) to avoid the inevitable mass of fallen/stuck bikes. Thankfully was one of the 1st bikes to arrive and got up the climb quickly and moved on. Later on in the day another sand storm blew up making the rest of the day hard to see and navigate. The last section in the dunes was a little hairy with most riders having to take a gamble getting over a big dune with next to zero visibility to get back to the hotel.

Day 6 - The rain came in and the morning was going well with more dunes and more sandy pistes when the bike started to splutter.  No fuel was getting to the fuel pump! An hour of messing about with the bike and grabbing fuel off other riders and the orga sore me back on my way but I had to take a 1/2 hour penalty for the fuel. The old red mist set in and I was flying trying to make up time. Caught up with the back markers quickly but then hit a dune too fast sending me into a rock edge. Had to sit down for a while as I landed on my head and then proceeded to sort the bike out. Had to navigate without the trip meter and my position slipped down to 19th.

Day 7 - More laps of dunes, camel grass, and sandy pistes. Starting at the back of the field the sand was even softer and totally rutted up from the other bikes. Lost the 5 minute lead I had on the next rider and finished 20th.

This years Tuareg Rally was by far the hardest rally I've done. It really was relentless on the last 3 and 1/2 days and it felt like the orga was really trying to break you. Spent a lot of the rally on my own and I feel I have the navigation very much dialled in. I did what I needed to do on this rally but feel a little cheated as both a top ten place and the Tuareg gold head was easily attainable. As usual met old friends and made great new ones, and the Dakar is certainly a little closer to reality. Libya Rally next.

More Tuareg 2014 photos can be found here

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