|Grand Erg: Yellow "sea of sand" on Tuesday - participants had fun in dunes.|
Rallyreport by Joerg Russler: Day 3. Shortly after leaving Douz behind, the teams notice there is going to be more shaking than stirring today. The quick gravel road leading south is an endurance test for machine and chassis. The passengers won’t get rid of the rattling and trembling that quickly either.
As the SUV’s need to slow down now and again for the deep eroded cross groves, the trucks can just race over them, thanks to their monster tyres. That’s just the right thing for Ralf Britz. His black monster, the 8x8 MAN truck, sweeps over the track grumbling deeply, overtaking even a few Defender vehicles.
They’re probably looking forward to the softer sand pads, which are growing over this stony field. They mark the edge of the desert. The soft surface feels like a velvet pillow when rolling over it. Get on it, pause for breath and then back to the shattering, hard as board track.
The sand is still enjoyed. But soon there will be more than enough of it. Already a few kilometres after the fifth passage control, which was hiding behind a small dune, the sand sea commences.
Martin Kern in his Defender is the first to climb over the hilltops. Yet the Kastners too, in their Toyota HZJ, can keep pace. Now the only thing that counts is experience.
Going up diagonally. A lot of gas. Coming down slowly again. Up and down. Up and down. How to hit each navigational point is everyone’s own choice. That is how the rally parade fights it way back and forth the endless dunes in scorching heat. The sand ends in camp Zmela, where a proper dinner awaits all parties concerned.
Stage Report SS02 Chott El Jerid - Douz - Camp Zmela
None of the teams, which started had decided for the outdoor overnight stay, which the organizer "Russi" had planned. However not all of them made it over the finishing line within the time limit.
The target time was set by Kern/Greis. They had driven into the leading positions with their Defender 90 already the day before. For first place they had developed the "not getting stuck strategy".
Martin Kern, the driver, said it was "hot and sandy and the routes had been very demanding". However for the following days there is still adequate room for improvement, as "we didn’t drive the perfect line yet".
Second place went to team Seip, which managed to get through without any damages or digging: "It was very exhausting, high dunes but the car managed it", Alexandra Seip said.
Olaf the driver was fully surprised by the good placement: "We thought we’re seventh or eighth, because we had been repairing a fellow colleague’s vehicle and the others had all passed us."
Nothing of the sort, the fellow colleague was the next to cross the time gate. According to Holger Grabatsch their problem was "the shock absorber was torn off, so we had to repair it."
Otherwise a great day: "The dunes were intensive, but I have a desert fox for a driver. Today our strategy was to navigate skilfully and to drive cleverly - and that’s what we did."
2012/04/26 | 12:55 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/HS/RUSSLER