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Grand Erg: Geis/Kern winner of second last stage - three rounds of 70 kms.





Rallyreport by Joerg Russler: Day 9. After the difficulties of the last days, the mood in the paddock is again considerably more relaxed. The motivation on the second last day of the stage is high as well. The fight for overall victory isn’t decided yet...

Stage Report Day 9 Douz

Team Britz has contested a rapid race so far and is reaching for the winner’s cup. Teams Geis/Kern and Kastner/Kastner are well situated in the ranking. This day could present the preliminary decision. The winners of the previous day roll as first team - Muehlbach/Bergler in their Nissan - to the camel stadium in Douz.

The starting and finishing line have been set up there already for three rounds of 70 km each. However in round 2 the hopes of a further day’s win were scattered. An axle’s wishbone did not survive the exertions and needs a lot of material creativity and repair time.

Team Britz has to admit defeat as well. After problems with the engine, which only runs at full throttle now, the race is over ahead of schedule for Jutta and Ralf. Team Geis and Kern has unwrapped the most successful strategy. They whoosh through the finish line after four hours and three exhausting rounds as proud winners. They feel "great".

The circular course however takes its toll. Martin Geis the navigator words the day’s challenge as follows: "I feel a bit dizzy, as a navigator I feel like a broken record. It’s like a Tibetan prayer wheel always reciting the same texts." The stressful part about it is "you get faster with every round because you know you’re way. That’s why we now feel slightly drained."

Surprisingly team Oberberger/Grabatsch push themselves to second place. Finally after three lost days in the sand they experience a lift with their Defender. "The car worked, finally driving again," Holger Grabatsch says with a big grin. "Great driving, navigation was fine, a great day."

Team Kastner/Kastner raced with their Toyota over the tracks and dunes without problems: "very bumpy route but with tailwind, which is good for our cooler. Beautiful these fast tracks. And we’ve found a way through the dunes without getting stuck," Georg Kastner junior raves with a sly smile. "In the second round my father said to me: "look at those tracks that was someone who knew his way around." On the GPS I then saw that they were our tracks." Now they have made it to second place in the overall ranking behind team Kern/Geis.

While we move through the Tunisian landscape, we are escorted by visible and invisible military vehicles. Even a helicopter makes its rounds regularly. It’s no surveillance a Tunisian army general reassures personally. He made a flying visit to the camel stadium to look after the whole rally team. "I wanted to know how you are. We ensure security and hope everything is well.

Additionally a Grand Erg medical team - around Christian Demmelmaier and Birgit Lehnhardt - visit the hospital in Kebili. Three incubators, a wheelchair, a defibrillator, two warm air units and medical supplies were handed over. The medical technology comes from donations by the Offroad Medic Crew GmbH in Germany. The hospital in Kebili has a good medical standard but they will surely use the presents. "The Tunisian colleague’s joy was definitely huge," Christian Demmelmair, managing director of OMC, says.

2012/05/03 | 05:08 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/HS/RUSSLER











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