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Sealine Rally Qatar: Competitors from 18 countries to start in Qatar Monday. | 20.04.2014


Sealine Rally Qatar: Jutta Kleinschmidt and Fabrizia Pons back in the Desert. | 20.04.2014


Sealine Rally Qatar: Yazeed Al-Rajhi rejoins Toyota Overdrive Tam in Qatar. | 19.04.2014


Breslau Rally: Rally will be more International - new full Cross-Country class. | 15.04.2014


Dakar Rally 2015: Peugeot unveiled first details of Peugeot 2008 DKR Proto. | 15.04.2014


FIM World Cup: Paulo Gonçalves - "It's not about luck - it’s about hard work". | 15.04.2014


Sealine Rally Qatar: QMMF announces route for Sealine Cross Country rally. | 14.04.2014













































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Pharaons Rally: Stage 04 - "No Metaphor - We were riding on a sea of sand".





By Robb Pritchard for marathonrally.com It's no metaphor, we really were riding on a sea of sand. Saeed Al Hameli pressed his nose up against the windscreen to get the best view and as we touch 120km/h the Dually's engine bogs a little, the horizon of a long pinkish outcrop fades from view and then it's just sand and sky... and when we gently bottom out in the small valley between the crests the small ripples shudder the truck just like it's a ship hitting a trough. Saeed is also a part-time fisherman and he says. "These are about 15 foot swells. If it was the sea it would be a bit rough!"

A few locals had followed the leading bikers to a 5 metre high drop-off and so marked a warning to the riders that something interesting was just beyond. We parked up watched the mid-field bikes slither through and then it was the famous blue buggy sliding to a momentary stop before Jean-Louis Schlesser eased it over and blasted off with a wide powerslide around the outside of one of the quads. A few more bikes trickled by before a deep rumble preceded Boris Gadasin appearing at the top and he launched off to hit the ground with a thump and splash of sand. Then it was Jun Mitsuhashi in his T2 Toyota and G-Force's Vladimir Vasiliev together and they wound away off through the small dunes side by side...

Back at camp many of the drivers didn't think that the stage was so hard. The circular 339km route looped out from the bivouac into the scorched wasteland across flowing dunes, up the back of a plateau and then straight off the end of it. "Sometimes I caught a glimpse when I could look away from the road," said stage-winner Jean-Louis Schlesser, "And the views were spectacular. Just a second here and there, or when we came to the edge of a ridge and you could see out to the horizon. I really enjoyed it. But the stage itself with such high speeds was a real challenge for the mechanics of the car... trying to keep the temperatures of the oil and water down while keeping flat out for such long stretches is a real challenge."

Second again was the perpetually happy and relaxed Jun Mitsuhashi in his large Toyota Land Cruiser. "It was fast!" he smiled. "All the time with just my right foot down... and today was good! I was expecting the two G-Force Protos to catch me really quickly, but actually they were a bit late! First it was Gadasin to go by but he went a little off the route and I took the straight way and got in front again and then Vasiliev caught up and we were all running together. Playing with the Protos was great. But then Gadasin got a puncture and the other one was a little off the middle line and flew off a dune, and I mean flew! But he broke the front of his car when he landed and from then on we just went to the finish. It was a very nice day!"

And what about G-Force. "Just some more bad luck like every day," Boris shrugged disconsolately as it wasn't just a puncture that slowed him down, today he really lost his cool... literally... as his cool-suit sprang a leak... and Freon gas is rather hard to find in the middle of the desert. But it was his car that was showing the effects of the day rather than him as it was listing sadly to the side. "There are lines of these small little dunes," he said. "They're only about 60cm high, but are really hard to see... and we hit one fast. It's like driving into a small wall at 150km/h and the impact broke a suspension strut..." And Vasiliev? Again Boris sighed. "He landed really hard and awkwardly on one wheel after a jump and broke the front suspension assembly. The right side today, yesterday it was the left!" And the truck? "Sergei (Kislev) and Alexi (Ivanov) were up all night fixing the hydraulic clutch and making new engine mounts, but at the moment they are still in the stage and we don't have contact with them..."

5th today and 4th overall is Vadym Nesterchuk in the Sixt Ukraine Mitsibishi, but it was far from easy. "We lost the power steering fluid so it was so hard to drive the car," he said. To keep going we had to improvise by filling the tank with engine oil instead... but it didn't last so long. But we made it, and now we are getting ready for tomorrow."

Coming home 3rd today was the cheerful and friendly Costel Casuneau, who I again found stretched out on his mattress in the shade. "Today was fast," he said, "And we spent a lot of time on the limiter at 160kp/h. But we almost crashed again... this time into Vasiliev because our Sentinel didn't work. We saw a couple of guys in racing suits sitting on top of a dune and so moved a little to the side just in case... and if we hadn't... well..." The Mitsibishi's mechanics were as relaxed as Costel and seemed to be sleeping under the car. "No," he smiled. "They are just checking the carbon-ceramic clutch for tomorrow. It's very sensitive and if you are rough with it, you can burn it out in a minute... but we'll take the dunes easily as at this stage in the race it's more important to finish."

Another team dreaming about finishing are the Egyptian Rahhala team. We waited a while at our vantage point in the dunes but they didn't appear. "The turbine for the engine air-cooling system failed," Tarek El Erian explained in the bivouac. "We tried to carry on a bit further, but no! It's a pity as we were going nice and steady, no one was overtaking us and the stage was actually quite easy, apart from the speed of it, so we are a little sad not to finish. But everything is fixed and we'll be at the start tomorrow!"

And quite a few had something to say about tomorrow's stage. I overheard people in the press centre calling it the Big One. At's 444km it's the longest, hardest and most specific of the event, full of intricate dunes with changing sands where experience will pay...

2011/10/06 | 17:38 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/PRITCHARD












SCORE 2014: Armin Schwarz and AGM aim for podium at Imperial Valley 250 | 20.04.2014 18:59 | NEW




Sealine Rally Qatar: Team Honda HRC to defend championship leadership | 20.04.2014 18:50 | NEW




Sealine Rally Qatar: Competitors from 18 countries to start in Qatar Monday. | 20.04.2014 18:23 | NEW




Sealine Rally Qatar: Jutta Kleinschmidt and Fabrizia Pons back in the Desert. | 20.04.2014 15:17 | NEW




Sealine Rally Qatar: Yazeed Al-Rajhi rejoins Toyota Overdrive Tam in Qatar. | 19.04.2014 15:48 | NEW




Sealine Rally Qatar: After a short break, four X-raid Mini are back in action | 19.04.2014 15:24 | NEW




Donaldson CC: Tovey first footballer in Imperial Auto Celebrity Challenge | 19.04.2014 15:08 | NEW




Hungarian CC: Second race, second win for Polish Chevrolet at Turkeve Cup | 16.04.2014 19:50 |




Sealine Rally Qatar: Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah to compete in a Mini All4 Racing | 16.04.2014 19:22 |




Breslau Rally VIDEO: Official trailer of the legendary Breslau Rally Poland 2014 | 15.04.2014 23:08 |




Dakar Rally 2015 VIDEO: The Lion is back - Peugeot 2008 DKR presentation | 15.04.2014 23:05 |




Breslau Rally: Rally will be more International - new full Cross-Country class. | 15.04.2014 20:06 |




Dakar Rally 2015: Dakar Tour stopped in the Netherlands with Cyril Despres | 15.04.2014 19:24 |




Dakar Rally 2015: Peugeot unveiled first details of Peugeot 2008 DKR Proto. | 15.04.2014 19:05 |




Hungarian CC VIDEO: Short impressions Turkeve Cup - Nissan Qashqai Proto | 15.04.2014 18:53 |




Hungarian CC: Double bad luck for Hungarian Solyom Team at Turkeve Cup | 15.04.2014 18:41 |




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Dakar Rally 2015 VIDEO: Tatra-Union - Loprais and Buggyra Dakar Forces | 15.04.2014 17:39 |




FIM World Cup: Paulo Gonçalves - "It's not about luck - it’s about hard work". | 15.04.2014 17:38 |




Sealine Rally Qatar: QMMF announces route for Sealine Cross Country rally. | 14.04.2014 17:43 |




Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge: Marc Coma - "We fought until the last kilometer" | 14.04.2014 17:11 |




Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge VIDEO: Official video impression D5 in Abu Dhabi | 14.04.2014 16:24 |




Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge VIDEO: Summary Vasilyev Mini All4 Racing Team | 14.04.2014 16:19 |




Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge VIDEO: Kazakhstan Teams Interview Sven Quandt | 14.04.2014 16:13 |




TORC 2014: Kleiman adds second Truck 2014 - keeps busy at Primm Valley | 14.04.2014 15:55 |




TORC 2014: Canadian two-truck team Sle Co Race had a challenging weekend | 14.04.2014 15:47 |




TORC 2014: Cenni wins season opener - Kvamme gets first career podium | 14.04.2014 14:26 |




TORC 2014: Hoek welcomes Nitto & Trailready with solid start at Primm Valley | 14.04.2014 14:19 |




Defender Challenge: Race2Recovery take top step on Defender Challenge RD2 | 14.04.2014 13:45 |




Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge: Four Overdrive Toyota in the final Top 10 | 14.04.2014 13:18 |




Formula Off-Road: Robby Gordon wins round 3 in front of Venezuela´s EJ Viso | 14.04.2014 12:54 |




Dakar Rally 2015: Czech Loprais Tatra team now together with Buggyra Tatra. | 14.04.2014 11:17 |




Pharaons Rally: X-raid back in Egypt, the stages of the Egyptian Rally 2014. | 14.04.2014 10:41 |




Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge: Vasilyev/Zhiltsov and Mini winning in Abu Dhabi. | 10.04.2014 15:31 |




Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge: Surprising ADDC victory for Paulo Goncalves. | 10.04.2014 14:59 |




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Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge: 1-2-3 for the X-raid Minis, 4-5-6 for the Toyotas. | 10.04.2014 10:14 |




Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge: Coma leading, Sunderland mechanical problems. | 10.04.2014 08:38 |




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