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Dakar Rally 2015: The real Odyssey before - or how to be at the Start in time. | 29.08.2014


Defender Challenge: Rd 5 of the series by Bowler takes place this weekend. | 29.08.2014


Rally dos Sertões: Honda HRC riders finished first part of the marathon stage. | 29.08.2014


Rally dos Sertões: Top 10 cars mixed after hardest stage - Spinelli still leader. | 28.08.2014


Rally dos Sertões PHOTOS: Impressions from the Marathonrally in Brazil (77). | 28.08.2014


Rally dos Sertões: Two X-Rally NWM Ford Ranger in good 2nd and 4th position. | 28.08.2014


Baja Poland: Poland to welcome 112 competitors in Baja Poland this weekend. | 28.08.2014













































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Expedition Trophy: "After more than two full days we got into Ekaterinburg".






By Robb Pritchard: If the 1800 km drive from Murmansk to Veliky Novgorod on sheet ice and pot-holes wasn't hard enough on its own crews also had to find points scattered along the route. Each was worth 15 points and each is valuable as after each stage the two lowest scoring teams get dropped out. But even with a crazy 50 hour time limit it was so tight that teams had to choose which ones to go for.

So 2 days after I'd seen them last tired and slightly bewildered looking people lined up at the regroup at the edge of a frozen lake and I wondered around seeing who had some stories to tell.

The start-line blessing the giant bunny received didn't seem to do it too much good as it was looking very sorry for itself with its once shiny pink fur all matted with ice and grime. But its team were in good spirits as they took on the hallowed Golden Envelope, a task so hard that many talk about it with dread.

The points available if you can complete it mean that you will get a guaranteed entry in the grand final in Vladivostok. The challenge was to detour south to Kazakshtan and look for crashed satellites in the snowy wastes. Don't find them though and you are out! Incredible. But the bunny still had a grin on its face as it headed out.

But the next task for the rest of the teams over the coming 2200 km stage didn't seem all that much easier. Some of the points the organisers had put in the northern forests were hard enough to get but but this time they'd put people with stamps on trains - yes, moving checkpoints. And all the teams had to go on was a time table of 20 trains that would criss-cross the route east to Ekaterinburg over the next two days...

I found a seat with Team NEC, a friendly group of Belarussians and Muscovites and few kilometers later we pulled into a cafe called Bummer to sit down and try and work out a plan. But it wasn't too long before the time-table was in pieces on the table. "Forget it! We go to Ekaterinburg the nice way, on the back roads" Igor said.

But talk of back roads in a cafe with such a name was doomed to trouble and an unsuccessful hunt for a tyre shop with a big enough machine to balance the 37' tyres and then a closed road that confused the GPS systems enough that we were driving through the night around dead-end villages and roads that hadn't been ploughed for a long time. Tensions rose in proportion to the new Russian vocabulary I learned. Although it is funny to know that the word for pancake is a curse!

The moon was almost full and cast eerie shadows through the constant birch and pine forests, while the snow-covered fields gleamed a strange silver but the dawn didn't bring any colour to the sleeping land. We started the stage with 2300km on the GPS and to remind me just how big this country is at one point it said Turn Left in 247 km. But stopping in a place that translated into 'The essence of spirit' the next afternoon it still said 1300 km to go...

There is an interactive cd-rom in Russia called 'How to Drive' that gives instructions on how you should drive. In the rest of the world it's called Grand Theft Auto 4! Progress was painfully slow we had to force our way around labouring trucks with wonky wheels, dodge the kamikaze Lada drivers coming the other way on the wrong side of the road and thread through the wreckage of recent accidents.

And then a storm came that white-washed the way ahead and we crawled along with the road indistinguishable from fields and sky. It was impossible to overtake as visibility was down to just a few meters... and wasn't helped by the windscreen wipers icing up until they just scraped a few useless lines across the glass.

From my back seat vantage point it seemed that only Russians could carry on like this. 4 days of constant driving, only sleeping in fits and starts on the back seat before being ruffled awake again to take the wheel and they could still manage to handle an overloaded 4x4.

Finally, more than two full days since we'd left Veliky Novgorod, we got into Ekaterinburg and gratefully checked into a hotel - but only for a painfully short few hours for a team briefing and the instructions for the next stage. No one did too well in getting the stamps from the trains, the best team got 4 stamps out of a possible 19 and my friends in Team Yeti were in the last two. If they didn't manage to win the next task they'd have to face the daunting Golden Envelope or go home.

But some good news. The Oleni team with the pink bunny in tow somehow managed to find the crashed satellite in the Kazakhstani countryside. The next stage is to a camp site near the city of Tomsk, a place according to Wikipedia is famous for its chemical and oil industries. Only 1800km away and we have two days to get there.

2013/03/01 | 23:05 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/PRITCHARD











Rally dos Sertões RESULTS: Overall results CARS & TRUCKS SS05 on Thursday | 29.08.2014 03:33 |




Rally dos Sertões RESULTS: Overall results BIKES & QUADS SS05 on Thursday | 29.08.2014 03:24 |




Dakar Rally 2015: The real Odyssey before - or how to be at the Start in time. | 29.08.2014 02:40 |




Defender Challenge VIDEO: Impressions of the series by Bowler Rd 4 Wales | 29.08.2014 01:31 |




Defender Challenge: Rd 5 of the series by Bowler takes place this weekend. | 29.08.2014 01:27 |




Rally dos Sertões: Honda HRC riders finished first part of the marathon stage. | 29.08.2014 00:47 |




Rally dos Sertões VIDEO: Mitsubishi Petrobras Team crews SS04 Wednesday | 28.08.2014 17:10 |




Rally dos Sertões VIDEO: Official no comment rally video of SS04 Wednesday | 28.08.2014 17:08 |




Rally dos Sertões: Top 10 cars mixed after hardest stage - Spinelli still leader. | 28.08.2014 16:33 |




Rally dos Sertões PHOTOS: Impressions from the Marathonrally in Brazil (77). | 28.08.2014 04:57 |




Rally dos Sertões: Two X-Rally NWM Ford Ranger in good 2nd and 4th position. | 28.08.2014 04:48 |




Baja Poland: Poland to welcome 112 competitors in Baja Poland this weekend. | 28.08.2014 02:20 |




Rally dos Sertões RESULTS: Overall results CARS & TRUCKS SS04 Wednesday | 28.08.2014 01:56 |




Rally dos Sertões RESULTS: Overall results BIKES & QUADS SS04 Wednesday | 28.08.2014 00:44 |




Rally dos Sertões: KTM’s Marc Coma hangs on to overall lead in dos Sertoes. | 27.08.2014 23:48 |




Rally dos Sertões: Paulo Gonçalves clinches victory in SS04 - the longest stage. | 27.08.2014 23:32 |




Desafío Inca: German manufacturer battle - X-Raid Mini vs SAM Mercedes CC | 27.08.2014 19:26 |




Rally dos Sertões RESULTS: Overall results CARS & TRUCKS SS03 on Tuesday | 27.08.2014 18:33 |




Rally dos Sertões RESULTS: Overall results BIKES & QUADS SS03 on Tuesday | 27.08.2014 18:29 |




Rally dos Sertões VIDEO: Mitsubishi Petrobras Team crews SS03 on Tuesday | 27.08.2014 17:55 |




Rally dos Sertões: Both Ford Rangers reached top speeds above 175 km/h. | 27.08.2014 17:07 |




Rally dos Sertões VIDEO: Onboard with X-Rally Ford Ranger Baumgart / Cincea | 27.08.2014 16:35 |




Rally dos Sertões: Stagewin for Toyota´s Varela in S3 but Spinelli still leader. | 27.08.2014 16:19 |




Rally dos Sertões: Goncalves - "Hope to ride hard without making mistakes" | 27.08.2014 16:00 |




Rally dos Sertões: Marc Coma wins again in Bikes and remains the leadership. | 27.08.2014 15:35 |




Rally dos Sertões VIDEO: Mitsubishi Petrobras Team crews SS02 on Monday | 26.08.2014 19:14 |




Rally dos Sertões VIDEO: Official no comment rally video of SS02 on Monday | 26.08.2014 18:57 |




Baja Poland: X-raid with four Mini All4 Racing - chase for World Cup continues. | 26.08.2014 17:21 |




Baja Poland: Overdrive Racing with five Toyota Hilux and Nasser Al Attiyah. | 26.08.2014 16:45 |




Rally dos Sertões: Mitsubishi´s Spinelli / Haddad the new leader in the cars. | 26.08.2014 05:17 |




Rally dos Sertões: Gonçalves wins SS2 in Bikes but Coma still overall leader. | 26.08.2014 05:02 |




Rally dos Sertões PHOTOS: Nice impressions from the first days in Brazil (79) | 26.08.2014 04:53 |




Baja Poland VIDEO: Official trailer of the Baja Poland FIA CC World Cup 2014 | 26.08.2014 04:32 |




Donaldson CC: Test of character for the teams at South African Vryburg 450 | 26.08.2014 03:49 |




Rallyraid: Kamaz Master legend Ilgizar Mardeev tragically died in an accident. | 26.08.2014 03:09 |




Rally dos Sertões RESULTS: Overall results CARS & TRUCKS SS02 on Monday | 26.08.2014 02:30 |




Rally dos Sertões RESULTS: Overall results BIKES & QUADS SS02 on Monday | 26.08.2014 01:59 |




Rally dos Sertões VIDEO: Driving onboard with Overdrive Toyota Hilux of Verala | 26.08.2014 01:46 |




Rally dos Sertões: Honda´s Paulo Goncalves wins second stage in the bikes. | 26.08.2014 01:28 |




Rally dos Sertões VIDEO: Official no comment video of SS01 Sunday (crash) | 26.08.2014 00:56 |




















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