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Breslau Poland: Rally on standby by Military because of actual political situation. | 18.07.2014


Breslau Poland: The truck-legends are back - scrutineering - Ford Ranger. | 12.07.2014


Breslau Poland PHOTOS: First Impressions of the Scrutineering in Recz (60). | 12.07.2014


Africa Eco Race: End of preferential rates - review rally presentations Europe. | 04.07.2014


Dakar Rally 2015: Carlos Sousa switch from Great Wall to Mitsubishi Petrobras. | 04.07.2014


Hungarian Baja: 2014 is promising a big challenge for 11th edition in Hungary. | 03.07.2014


Dakar Rally 2015: Peugeot 2008 DKR - first test, new detailed technical data. | 03.07.2014













































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Pharaons Rally: X-raid on false rally in Morocco - Zapletal to catch BMW spirit.







By Robb Pritchard for marathonrally.com Of all the places in the world to start a motorsport event, having the Pyramids of Giza as the backdrop must surely be one of the most prestigious. In the soft early morning light they were a breath-taking sight and all the crews found a little place on the dusty plateau near the podium to take a team photo.

First to drive under the inflatable arch was legendary rally raider Jean-Louis Schlesser, as the the reigning champion and current FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallys points leader Leonid Novitskiy is in Morocco with the X-Raid team preparing for the Dakar.

Behind the blue buggy were Miroslav Zapletal in an X-Raid BMW X3CC and Russian Boris Gadasin in his G-Force Proto both keen to carry on their rivalry from the last round in Hungary. There were no crowds of spectators though as access was very restricted, just a few bored looking camel-mounted policemen ambling around chasing away the cheeky postcard sellers.

I was with Saeed Al Hameli, who some might remember as the one-eyed wonder from the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge when he finished the first stage in 6th place... without a co-driver, and after a 300km blast through the desert east of Cairo in his massive Chevy Duelly we found an excellent view point near the finish.

The wide valley was strewn with fearsomely sharp bits of shale and the steep hills either side needed a lot of careful negotiating. It was perhaps not too surprising to see Schlesser appear over the horizon first, a few sharp bursts of his 7 litre V8 ringing out over the still desert air and then a long time on full throttle as he blasted across the plain, pulling up a huge rooster tail of dust behind him. He wasn't fastest today though.

Then there was a long wait for Zapetal and he was noticeably calmer across the valley, backing off over the jumps and struggling up the slope next to us because he didn't have enough momentum... but there was a reason for that... "X-Raid are in Morocco," Miroslav said back at camp. "All of X-Raid." His team consists of a pick-up with a trailer and a mechanic... "So we need to take it very easy on the car." Also, his co-driver Tomas Ourednicek has the flu. "It's a disadvantage," he explained. "I'm not so sharp and the track was constantly bumpy... and it was a 500km stage..."

The next car to come into view wasn't a G-Force as we were expecting... it was a T2 Land Cruiser, but through our telephoto lenses we saw them pull over to fix a puncture, just 1 km from the finish. The driver was Japan's Jun Mitsuhashi and he wasn't too pleased with his day. "We were expecting more sand so we had the tyre pressures a bit low... and it was all rocks, so we had two punctures. And also, the last time I drove was in the Dakar 10 months ago so I am a bit out of practise... oh, and my seatbelt came loose, so it was hard to keep concentration... Tomorrow will be better." Just then one of his team guys came in with the provisional results. "Fourth," he shrugged. "Tomorrow I will be hoping for a better result."

But he did beat Boris Gadasin. His monstrous 7 litre Corvette V8 dropped a couple of cylinders about 5km after the start and the loss of power cost them over 27 minutes. Back at camp Boris was understandably disconsolate but his new team mate Vladimir Vasiliev was in a better mood... he won the stage. "Everyone always tells me, drive slow on the first stage, so I did. I was just taking my time, I even stopped at service... just to say hello to the mechanics... But the stage wasn't so hard. Tomorrow will be a lot of sand, a lot of dunes and we never raced there so we will just go there to learn."

And Schlesser wasn't too upset to be second. "It's always hard to open a stage as you have no tracks to follow... well, you have the mess that the bike leave, but it's not very helpful. A few times we had to turn around as the hill was very rocky and we didn't know what was at the top, but tomorrow will be much harder," he said with a smile. "So I don't think that the result will be the same..."

But Valiliev's stage victory wasn't G-Force's only moment of fame today. Their T4 truck stole the start show... by destroying the podium! It wouldn't fit under the inflatable arch so some bright thinking official pointed them up onto the wooden ramp next to it... Team co-director Marina shrugged her shoulders and said, "You do what the officials tell you..." and the result was quite inevitable... and highly amusing. First one wheel snapped a plank and then the rest of the 7 ton truck fell in and by the time they'd worked themselves out there was nothing but a pile of timbers left!

As I write this I am in the press centre in a huge Arabic style tent and the organisers are repeatedly telling everyone that tomorrow's stage will be very hard and that crews won't be allowed to start unless they have enough water on board. Schlesser has 30 seconds to pull back, which is a split second in rally-raid terms. I'll be out with Saeed again somewhere in the dunes under this ancient sun and I'll have some time to catch up with some heroes of the event... like those tackling the stages on a pair of Aprillia scooters...

2011/10/03 | 22:43 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/PRITCHARD












Breslau Poland: Rally on standby by Military because of actual political situation. | 18.07.2014 09:56 |




Breslau Poland RESULTS: Daily results after SS01 Recz / Recz roundcourse | 13.07.2014 23:38 |




Breslau Poland: The truck-legends are back - scrutineering - Ford Ranger. | 12.07.2014 15:17 |




Breslau Poland PHOTOS: First Impressions of the Scrutineering in Recz (60). | 12.07.2014 14:29 |




Africa Eco Race: End of preferential rates - review rally presentations Europe. | 04.07.2014 15:44 |




Rally Raid VIDEO: Special tuned and loud Nissan Patrol RB25DET from Bulgaria | 04.07.2014 15:14 |




Red Bull Romaniacs: The most diversified Extreme Enduro track ever in 2014 | 04.07.2014 14:24 |




Dakar Rally 2015: Carlos Sousa switch from Great Wall to Mitsubishi Petrobras. | 04.07.2014 11:21 |




Baja Deutschland VIDEO: Summary of Dutch competitors in Germany in June | 04.07.2014 10:37 |




TORC 2014: Douglas continues to run up front - finishes Third in Round 7 | 04.07.2014 10:17 |




Hungarian Baja: 2014 is promising a big challenge for 11th edition in Hungary. | 03.07.2014 22:28 |




TORC 2014: Barlow Motorsports - All four cars had various levels of success | 03.07.2014 22:22 |




Dakar Rally 2015 VIDEO: The all-new Peugeot 2008 DKR buggy - first preview | 03.07.2014 19:08 |




Dakar Rally 2015: Peugeot 2008 DKR - first test, new detailed technical data. | 03.07.2014 18:48 |




Donaldson CC: The African sands deliver their verdict in the Dakar Challenge | 03.07.2014 18:18 |




TORC 2014: Team Kleiman Off Road Racing - "Big House Brawl" Race Report | 03.07.2014 18:11 |




TORC 2014: Ross Hoek gets first PRO-4x4 Podium - third place in round 8 | 03.07.2014 17:55 |




Donaldson CC VIDEO: Impressions Toyota Team Kalahari Botswana Desert race | 03.07.2014 17:48 |




Donaldson CC: Rhide SA´s Brian Baragtwanath wins Quads Dakar Challenge | 03.07.2014 17:38 |




Donaldson CC: Bertholdt / Rousseau win free entry for the Dakar Rally 2015. | 03.07.2014 17:17 |




Donaldson CC: History repeats in Special Vehicles Class in Botswana rally | 03.07.2014 15:40 |




Donaldson CC: Taylor / Murphy win Toyota Botswana 1000 Dakar Challenge. | 03.07.2014 15:17 |




OiLibya Morocco: Organizer NPO unveils details of the 2014 stages in Morocco. | 27.06.2014 14:22 |




OiLibya Morocco VIDEO: Official trailer for the OiLibya Rally in Morocco 2014 | 27.06.2014 14:04 |




Dakar Challenge: Team Rhide SA ready for the Dakar Challenge in Botswana | 26.06.2014 18:52 |




FIA CC World Cup: UAE study points way to increasing safety to saving lives. | 26.06.2014 17:48 |




LOORR 2014: Solid weekend at Miller sport park in Utah for Casey Currie | 26.06.2014 17:02 |




Dakar Rally 2015: Japanese Hino truck already preparing for 2015 Dakar Rally | 26.06.2014 16:59 |




Dakar Rally 2015: X-raid strikes back - Dakar winner Roma extends contract. | 25.06.2014 17:33 |




ULTRA 4 Europe: Second day report ULTRA 4 race in Italy - by Robb Pritchard | 25.06.2014 14:43 |




AXCR Asia CC Rally: Outlander PHEV to tackle rally for second straight year. | 25.06.2014 14:14 |




AXCR Asia CC Rally VIDEO: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Hybrid in AXCR Rally | 25.06.2014 14:08 |




Donaldson CC: Desperate times for Special Vehicles in Botswana 1000 desert | 25.06.2014 13:53 |




TORC 2014: Flying Dutchman Mike Vanden Heuvel prepares for Crandon Brush | 25.06.2014 12:59 |




TORC 2014 VIDEO: Impressions from TORC Series by Amsoil round Bark River | 25.06.2014 12:57 |




TORC 2014: Dale Chestnut wins RD2 and leads TORC Classix Championship | 25.06.2014 12:46 |




TORC 2014: Steve Barlow and Adrian Cenni take PRO-class podiums in BR | 25.06.2014 12:45 |




Dakar Rally 2015: Former Winner Nasser al-Attiyah to switch to Toyota 2015. | 24.06.2014 17:54 |




LOORR 2014: Team Toyo’s Kyle LeDuc captures third successive sweep in Utah | 24.06.2014 17:15 |




Baja Rally: Mexican rally adds new Adventure Bike Expert class for 2014. | 24.06.2014 16:54 |




















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