23 March 2012, Dune Race
Distance80Km total, all competitive, single special stage, four laps of 'House Dune'
SummaryIt was another day of mixed fortunes for the Race2Recovery team on the fifth day of the 2012 Tuareg Rally. Dave Marsh and Tom Neathway blasted through the field to finish the stage first, after starting in 12th place on the road. However, the car of Ben Gott and Tony Harris ran out of time, after they got stuck in the sand and the misfire which caused problems on day three returned.
The fifth day featured a single stage, made up of four laps around the fabled 'House Dune' which sees the motorbike runners climb a mountain of sand to their finish. Dave and Tom set of at a blistering pace on dunes that were more rolling than previous days and featured more rounded bases, as opposed to the sharper versions from day four.
By the end of the first lap, they were running second on the road and by the end of the stage itself, were well clear at the head of the pack, claiming back valuable lost time after getting stuck the previous day.
Tony and Ben fared less well, however. In the course of their first lap, they encountered a number of cars stuck around the edge of a dust bowl so they were forced to select a route which was less than ideal, at which point they also became stuck. Once they were going again Tony took a tyre off the rim whilst trying to avoid some camel grass and became stuck again and then, their problems were compounded when the engine began to misfire again.
By the time they reached their next checkpoint, they were three minutes out of time and therefore, could not continue.
Dave Marsh, driver:
"Today was absolutely fantastic. The car felt absolutely amazing over the dunes, as they were more rolling and had much smoother transitions than what we have experienced so far. They had a far more exponential shape, as opposed to the sharper bases on previous days.
"There were sections where we were doing 90mph on the sand and trying to get past bikers and other cars but our horn wasn't working, so I think we surprised a few people!
"The only issue we had was a retaining clip on one of the brake pipes broke and the pipe was caught between the suspension arm and the chassis, which cut it so we had no brakes by the end of the stage. However, we clamped the pipe so we could return to the service area and the team could repair the car."
Ben Gott, driver
"A bit of a frustrating day for us but again, we're still smiling and we're still going. We started well, with Tony driving but very quickly, we came across a group of cars all stuck in a sand bowl. We had no choice but to try to continue down a route we didn't want to take and of course, we ended up getting stuck as well. Two other Wildcats tried to help us and eventually, we got free and carried on.
"Then, 5Km later, we knocked a tyre off the wheel rim when we landed on a clump of camel grass and got stuck on it as well, so we had to change the wheel and get ourselves free. We carried on and completed the first lap but we could feel the engine misfire was starting to return and by the time we got to the next checkpoint, we were three minutes out of time, so that was the end of our day.
"I'm sure the problem is a dirty electrical connection somewhere and I'm also sure the team will find the problem and rectify it so that we can finish the event."
Tomorrow's routeDay six of the event sees the crews leave the area around Mersouga and begin travelling north, back towards the overnight halt at Missor. They will leave the sand dunes of the Erg Chebbi behind and return to rock-based tracks in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains.
Level Peaks Associates
Level Peaks Associates (LPA) has developed a position at the cutting edge of military and civilian technology and can fulfill the requirements of operational needs through the modification and development of proven and emerging technologies.
The company has supplied Race2Recovery with much of the specialist desert equipment required for the Tuareg Rally, including specially designed protective goggles, a fan-cooled version for spectacle-wearers, Oakley sunglasses and desert footwear, Camelback water delivery systems and by no means least, the 3M Peltor helmets and intercom systems that ensure crews communicate effectively and in complete safety.