Team Saluki History - 2004 Back | History Index | Forward


2004 Champions Rally - 12th-13th May

The last rally before the onslaught of summer - the Champions Rally is once again held in the Emirate of Um Al Quwain. Another 'open' event combining saloon cars mixing it with 4x4's saw 27 eligible starters for this event.



A prologue was held on the Um Al Quwain Corniche which determined the start position for the following day. No major mishaps as we have seen in the past with competitors rolling on the first corner! Although there were a few hairy moments! We took it steady once again and achieved a start position of 17 for the next day.

There were a total of three stages on the actual day of the rally, each run twice. The total distance of the event was 215 km, of which 109.6 were 'special stages'.

17 vehicles completed the rally, which showed another high rate of attrition. The fastest speed attained on one of the stages was 167 kph,

Team Saluki finished in 9th position with a total time of 1:07:15 hrs.

Desert Blues

Story by Tim Ansell


The last rally before the onslaught of summer - the Champions Rally is once again held in the Emirate of Um Al Quwain. Another 'open' event combining saloon cars mixing it with 4x4's saw 27 eligible starters for this event.

Once again the prologue was held on the Umm Al Quwain corniche, where we had previously recorded the 17th fastest time, but this time we took things a little faster, and we were to start the following day in 12th position. All the teams stayed overnight at the nearby Bin Majid Resort, so I was able to celebrate my birthday with a beer or two, but we were up bright and early to practice the stages one more time the next day.

Mark had borrowed a specialist camera mount for use inside race cars and we had fitted a digital video camera inside the car for the first time. The footage from the floodlit prologue looked pretty good, and we planned to record each of the stages with a view to using some clips in the video Tracie Mitchell is making for us. The difficulty was that due to the camera’s position behind us, I had to remove my harness and turn round in the seat to switch it on, which wasn’t exactly convenient and meant I had to switch it on several minutes before each stage.

Racing began at 12:00 mid-day, by which time the temperature had climbed to about 41° C, so sitting inside the dark blue car, wearing our fireproof race suits and helmets, was a singularly unpleasant experience. Apart from the one hour service stop after 3 stages, we were to spend the next 6 hours sitting roasting inside the car, and even during the break there was little or no shade to be found, so our service team of Ian and Streaky kept us supplied with copious amounts of cold water. The water kept us going, but the heat certainly took its toll on our sense of humour and apparently we weren’t much fun to talk to during the race. Sorry guys, it was nothing personal…

During the first two stages, parts of which we’d raced as sections of the Spring Desert Rally, I was a bit slow getting the calls to Mark, which led to us almost missing a couple of turns on Stage 2. Mark was understandably annoyed and I realised I was simply looking down at the notes and not paying enough attention to what was going on outside the car. Too much celebrating the night before maybe? Anyway I’d sorted that out by Stage 3 and after that the calls were fine, but then I remembered my screw ups had been caught on video - though it’s probably a good thing we haven’t yet linked the camera to the intercom system….

During the service break we were able to move the camera mount and fix it so that Mark could easily switch the camera on and off – and although the camera was now mounted upside down, Tracie assured us she could “flip” the image digitally. Useful if we were ever to put the car on its roof I guess!

Anyone who has followed our races this year will know we’re beginning to get paranoid about animals obstructing our route and guess what – on Stage 4 a small herd of camels decide to cross our path and one of them stayed put on the track. With subkah on both sides of us we couldn’t drive off the established track so we simply had to wait until he moved on. If we didn’t know otherwise we’d swear our competitors had trained these animals to recognize our car and get in our way.

Stage 5 went well and as we raced through the last of the jumps of the pylon track on stage 6, there was a sense of relief that we’d finished the first 5 rallies of the season without any major damage to the car, and we’d remained competitive throughout. We finished in 9th place in the Champions Rally, but again this was an event open to saloon cars as well as 4x4 vehicles, so their top speed really puts us at a disadvantage, even though our fastest speed attained on one of the stages was 167 kph. 17 vehicles completed the rally, which showed another high rate of attrition.

The temperatures will now climb closer to 50°C during the summer months, so the rally season goes “on hold” until October, for the UAE Desert Challenge. Immediately after the Champions Rally the engine was removed from the car to be shipped back to the UK, where it will be stripped down and rebuilt by Steve Lundlack at Lund Engines, and the intention is that when it comes back it will have around 20% more power than it produces at the moment. This will put us in great shape for the Desert Challenge 2004 in mid October, and we are already preparing for that great event. Mark has now competed in many Desert Challenges but it will be my first experience of this daunting race, which this year has been extended to five days instead of four, so I’ll be spending the next few months getting fit!!


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