|SA-Dakar: Hard day´s night for Australian Isuzu D-Max crew on Stage 4.|
Sydney´s Bruce Garland and Harry Suzuki are looking forward to a good night´s sleep after spending most of day Four in their Isuzu D-Max for the toughest day, so far, of the 2011 Dakar Rally. At the end of it all, the Dakar veterans discovered they had retained 19th place on the road, and are still first in their class.
They left the bivouac at San Salvador de Jujuy at first light to begin their long journey across the Andes Mountain range via the Paso de Jama, a testing 4800m above sea level. But despite the early start, Garland says there were still thousands of spectators lining the roads from the bivouac to the border.
"It´s been a long day," Garland gasped with suitable emphasis, waiting in line to fill up with diesel after more than 12 hours on the road. "No heroics today. It was all about survival. There was lots of bulldust and rocks on the stage which could have caused problems, so we just took it gently. A lot of buggies went past us because it was real buggy territory, but we live to fight another day and that´s important. There´s still a long way to go."
"We got up to nearly 5000 meters during the transport stage, so it got a bit hard to breathe. Then the stage itself started at an altitude of 3800m, and of course you´re working hard in the car so it was really draining. Both the D-MAX and us were struggling! We just took it as steadily as we could. We drank plenty of water and breathed slowly and that seemed to help. I´ve got a bit of a headache now, but it´s not too bad. Other than that, everything is fine. The car went well, all things considered, and we had no mechanical problems or any other issues."
While the stage involved a border crossing, Garland says the formalities were actually done in the bivouac before they left, with Chilean officials making the journey across the mountains to check everyone´s paperwork. "They´ve got a special passport stamp for Dakar competitors, with the Dakar logo on it, showing we´ve come into Chile but as competitors. It´s a cool thing to have."
2011/01/06 | 13:15 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/SWANTON