Monday, 27 October 2014

Merzouga Rally

Merzouga Rally - Another great rally but my run of bad fortune continues.

Arrived the day before and got in some dune training and all felt good. A cautious start due to the recent damaged wrist but was up to full speed in no time.

The next morning was the technical checks and a quick navigation training exercise. There was a lot to take in with the new GPS system but that was the reason for being here. All waypoints hit and I was looking forward to the race.

Took the prologue steady as Edo warned me of broken dunes, and then went riding with fellow Dakar competitor Koray. We took time to watch the shoot-out from the top of a dune for the top ten riders.

Day 1 - All going well in the special until 20k from the end 'the bike ran out of fuel'. There was fuel in the rear tank but it didn't want to take part in the rally! I watched as all the riders I'd passed during the day rode past me to the final check point. A Marshall turned up and we got the bike going again, but I was pretty disheartened. Finished the day early so went for a play in the dunes and did some filming with Keith on his 450RR.

Day 2 - Went well again with some great dune riding but once again the same fuel problem caused me to push the bike uphill to CP2. The navigation was spot on and you really had to have you're wits about you to hit all the way points.

Day 3 - The throttle action was relaxed to gain the distance needed to finish the day with no issues. Any 
chance of a top finish was long gone so decided to put my efforts into getting the navigation dialled in for Dakar. A comfortable 12th place was achieved with no dramas.

Day 4 - I had been up all night with diarrhoea. Thought nothing of it (been here before) and was the 1st of the team to CP2. Nausea and tiredness finally took its toll on my day and the journey to CP3 was painfully slow. Being unwell caused a crash, dehydration, and during the last 8k dune section I had to constantly take rests watching everyone ride past and into the distance. Again pretty gutted, but hit all way points.

This was the end of my race as I then spent the rest of my time in Morocco suffering from fever like symptoms. Big thanks to Martin at Torque Racing for getting me doctors, prescriptions, water, and finally getting me home.

The Merzouga Rally gave me a good taste of the navigation systems used in Dakar and I'm confident with my riding abilities. The heat still causes me concern so I've got an appointment with a sports nutritionalist in the UK to see if a change in diet may help. The Merzouga Rally is a great event with tricky navigation and beautiful desert riding. I hope I can return for another go in the future.


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