“Everybody was saying the Dakar rally doesn´t really start until the second week but in fact the first week through us a lot of curve balls and thousands of kilometres of punishment so that´s not quite true,” explained Moscatt.
“But we did begin the second week with the first real dunes of the rally and it took it´s toll straight away. We were a little unfortunate when coming around one of the first blind bends in a soft river bed to find another competitor walking down the track pulling his sand ramps behind, as they had just got their own car out.”
“Peter did well to avoid him but it left us know where to go except into the big truck ruts which were just too deep and we were then stuck ourselves!! Anyway that´s the way the luck rolls sometimes and as it was a bad blind spot and with more trucks coming, who don´t like to slow down, we lost quite a bit of time getting out safely,” Dale continued explaining, this all taking place on Stage 8, the first after the rest day.
“We soldiered on and passed back most of the guys that had gone by and nailed all the Weigh points and navigation so ended up a better than quite a few who would have spent the night out in the desert. We still managed to move up another position but it will be a tough day today starting behind so many of the big trucks, you really have to see those trucks go to believe it, I´m not even sure how some of them walk with balls like that!!”
By the end of Stage 8 they’d climbed into 32nd overall, and a further place to 31st on the next day’s Stage 9, where Peter Jerie takes up the story.
“Toughest stages of the Dakar started yesterday with stage 8 and continued today with stage 9,” he said. “Ultimately the conditions were so tough today with 50+ degree temperatures in the soft sandy desert that with so many crews stranded and seeking both physical recovery and medical assistance the Dakar officials had to scramble all of their safety crews meaning today´s stage would finish at CP2.”
“Many cars including ourselves had a difficult time on both stages, in one sandy canyon alone we passed approximately 20 cars or trucks all stuck together including one truck tipped on its side, with the trucks and cars now starting together in mixed order the tracks become destroyed very quickly, many bottlenecks with deep ruts are created and those are nearly impossible to get through in cars.”
“We have to look all the time for alternative routes to avoid getting stuck in fesh fesh or in unstable soft sand and at the same time keep visual reference of the main track or just find our own way to the next waypoint off piste and this makes travel very slow,” Jerie stated.
“We lost about 45 minutes yesterday and 2 hours today getting bogged in areas where tracks in all directions were already badly broken and quite often blocked by other cars or trucks.”
“Extreme heat and hard work getting unstuck also meant that we consumed 14 litres of water and had to seek alternative resources from locals and officials along the route. We made it safely back to bivouac on both days and are currently sitting in 31st overall.”
On today’s 278 kilometre Stage 10 from Belen to La Rioja Jerie and Moscatt dropped back slightly, from 31st to 34th outright, but remain in the fight with three stages to go in the 2016 Dakar.
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Australian Rally Championship®