Team Saluki History - 2002 Back | History Index | Forward

Introduction to 2002

The year in which Power Horse Energy Drink took the decision to support Team Saluki. Already involved in the Middle East rally scene by sponsoring Saudi Arabia's Abdullah Bakhashab in his WRC car, Power Horse wanted to increase their exposure and felt that the Saluki's would help them reach alternative markets.

This support gave Team Saluki the boost they needed to kick-start the year. The car was completed in time for the 1000 Dunes Rally and with Power Horse supplying the Horse Power, we were up and running!

Words by Dave Pryce....

2002! Another year dawns, new hopes, new dreams, doubts, shattered illusions! It’s been a long and difficult year to this point and the battle is not yet over; indeed it probably never will be!

The Saluki duo know that they will miss the first rally and maybe even the second as well, the big sponsorship package is still elusive and every time the rebuild is discussed it seems that the list gets longer instead of shorter. The team are well aware that they need the practice and the car needs a shakedown, but that particular horizon is still too distant; there are plenty of other urgent chores that need to be attended to before the potent roar of the Saluki is once more heard across the sand!

It’s been said before; the endless hunt for sponsorship is a test of anyone’s staying power, optimism and faith. Time and again good leads and a professional approach turn to bitter disappointment and despondency. Is trying to get sponsorship akin to selling encyclopaedias door-to-door? Still, the effort has to be made or there would be no team.

However, when a sponsor does confirm their support of the team, all the efforts seem worthwhile. This happened when Pirelli confirmed their intention to sponsor Team Saluki with product. This was in the form of Pirelli Dakar tyres in sufficient quantity to last the season and, with an eight ply rating, would allow the tyres to be run at low pressure without fear of side-wall collapse.

Chasing after sponsorship was all very well but the car still needed much attention and the pair continued to put in time whenever possible. Mark was carrying most of the responsibility for this since the car was at his house in Dubai whereas Dave still lived in Abu Dhabi.

The roll cage was fabricated and installed and on 19th January the car was delivered to ‘The Kennel’, the nickname for the warehouse owned by Al Thika Packaging where the car would be garaged. This was part of the sponsorship package arranged in 2001.

One immediate advantage to having a facility like this is that Gayle (Mark’s long suffering wife) was able to repossess her house!!! Mark and Dave were pleased to have a dedicated workshop area where they could get stuck in to the job in hand although the lack of power at the time was a bit of a problem. A small generator was borrowed from Pat LaRoque and this managed to power one light bulb and one electric hand tool!

About this time the sponsorship package from Al-Tayer (Land Rover agents) was ironed out - this included a dedicated team of mechanics at the workshop, plus three men and a vehicle in support at every event. A full set of spares (on consignment) would also accompany the team. With this agreement in place it was decided to deliver the engine (still not fitted) to the Al-Tayer workshop for top end overhaul and general check to include ancillary parts (water pumps etc.).

Many other jobs were being dealt with at the same time (as well as life, kids, wives and regular jobs!) such as: design and build of aluminium housing for fuel tank, filters and hoses (with assistance from Streaky); web site redesign and build (thanks for the input Robert); wheel cover design and print; allocating team jobs and maintaining momentum and motivation and decisions on rewiring, etc.

January reluctantly gave way to February with still far too much to do. However, some good news arrived with the confirmation that Mobil will also back the team.

Tim, Dave and Mark were still actively pursuing other sponsorship opportunities, the most likely of which now seemed to be Power Horse.

Come early March and the rally car had travelled quite a few miles criss-crossing Dubai on the back of a trailer to have various jobs carried out at several locations. The total rewire was now complete, the engine was in place and most of the main parts had been fitted although the brakes had not yet been touched and needed considerable work. The fire extinguisher system had been shipped out from the UK and was ready to be fitted and hundreds of small jobs, seemingly insignificant but necessary none the less, were being completed.

With less than three weeks to the first race that Team Saluki could join this season, there was a tremendous breakthrough in terms of sponsorship. Mark was relentless in his pursuit of funding (out of necessity) and, like a terrier nipping at someone’s ankles, refused to give up (He can be very annoying sometimes!). While visiting Bahrain on business he called in at the Power Horse offices and eloquently restated his case for funding for Team Saluki. It is possible that he refused to leave their office without a positive answer but the reason given by Power Horse for finally agreeing to provide sizable sponsorship to the team is that they were overwhelmed by the sheer enthusiasm effusing from Mark! Whatever the reason, it was a very welcome break and two shots in the arm for the team. It just shows, perseverance does pay! With the inclusion of Power Horse the sponsorship line-up now read: Power Horse Energy Drink, Angliss / QBB Ghee, Gulf Agency Shipping, Al Thika Packaging, Pirelli Tyres, Mobil Oil, Al Tayer Motors, Al Seer Trading Agencies, Serck Services, Response Advertising and, a little later on, the national radio station FM2.

Suddenly the pace was stepping up, there was a race in sight, a thousand things to do and sponsors to appease! The list was endless and entailed much running around and several late nights in the kennel!

Late Friday, after several hours trying to bleed the all new brake system (greatly assisted by Ian Barker), the car was finally almost ready and Mark and Dave decided to take it out for a quick blast up and down the track outside the kennel. She sounded awesome to the drivers and they thought what a great feeling it was to be back in the seat again, strapped in, feeling the intensity, the sound reverberating and with the scent of raw power assailing their nostrils.

The 1000 Dunes Rally was due to start on the following Wednesday and yet there was still no end to the job list. There were team members to be organised and tasks to be assigned, GPS to be loaded, radio interviews to arrange, mailing sponsors to let them know the arrangements, registering and insuring the car, branding, clothing, communications lists, balancing and aligning wheels, final bodywork polishing, rally documentation, scrutineering, drivers briefing, route testing and pace notes to be done, liaising with the Power Horse representatives for product sampling at the event, arranging press coverage, arranging timetables for the mechanics and so on and so forth.

However, this was all completed in time and the Saluki's were ready to race!

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