Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Compilation Video
The Saluki Mega Mix... Thursday April 8th, 2010
Filmed, Edited and Uploaded DIRECT from the Bivouac in Liwa - here's all the video footage shot by Laurie of the Saluki buggy during 2010 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
Team Saluki was doing daily videos of the Desert Challenge - covering the Saluki buggy and our fellow competitors. Unfortunately due to the accident on Day 4, we've got no video for Day 5. So to make up for it, here's a video clip of Pure Saluki greatness.
We hope you enjoy the video! Thanks for watching!
2010 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Final Report
by Mark Powell, Driver April 8th, 2010
This is the final report and summary of Team Saluki’s entry into the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2010.
The build up was pretty much the same as the previous year, working late into the night in order to get everything ready in time. What didn’t help was the fact that the Chevrolet service truck had a couple of bent pushrods which Rick and the team managed to sort out with two days to spare. Many thanks to John Tonner in the US who helped find some of the parts and got them couriered over just in time.
The Prologue, which was held in a dust bowl in Abu Dhabi, saw a field of 31 cars, 3 trucks and 66 bikes / quads. By the time we got to do our loop the track was churned up and made it difficult for the 2WD Castrol EDGE buggy. It wasn’t one of our best performances and we ended up in 27th position out of 33 cars, 33 seconds behind the prologue winner Leonid Novitsky in his BMW (201).
What we didn’t realise until the next day at the start line, was that MAN truck (No. 243) driven by Steven Rotsaert had managed a 26th place on the prologue, which meant we had a big blue thing in front of us for the start of Day 1.
Starting off at one minute intervals, it didn’t take us long to catch up with the truck and we started to reel the in cars, one by one. We have never had a problem starting further down the field on the first day as this is a morale booster. There were many short, sharp choppy dunes which were quite tricky for the newcomers – the heat of the day didn’t help though.
We had one failed attempt up a small dune which was covered with sweep team vehicles rescuing a stuck competitor. We managed to extricate ourselves with little fuss and carried on to finish the day in 4th position, 39 minutes behind the leader, Novitsky. That evening we also found that we were now 2nd overall with a gap of 8’14” ahead of Laurent Rosso in his Nissan Pathfinder (225).
Start to PC1 – 11th position
PC1 to PC2 – 4th position
PC2 to finish – 4th position
Overall – 4th position
Finishing in 4th position on Day 1 meant that we started 4th on Day 2. It also meant that we needed to maintain that 8’14”gap and to try to build upon it. Day 2 (a distance of 305 km) is typically the hardest day with the dune section between PC3 and PC4 being a series of peaks and troughs – the heat started to get to me and I started to slow down and we lost a bit of time. Stopping at PC4 we took on board some ice cold water which rejuvenated us and we flew through to the finish.
Start to PC1 – 2nd position
PC1 to PC2 - 2nd position
PC2 to PC3 – 2nd position
PC3 to PC4 – 3rd position
PC4 to PC5 – 3rd position
Overall – 2nd position
Starting the day as the 3rd car (Novitsky 201 and Rosso 225) in front of us we were on song and caught up with Rosso 225 fairly quickly. He was stuck in a particularly nasty area but managed to self-extricate himself. We experienced an electrical failure at the same time but managed to sort it out and caught up with Rosso again.
We gave the thumbs up to our service team as we went through PC2 / Service and carried on 8 kms into the stage when the power steering went and the alternator light came on. We carry a spare belt onboard, but that was of no use as we found that the brand new power steering pulley has parted company from the shaft. The steering on the buggy is incredibly heavy without the assistance of the pump, and given the distance we had to go, we made that decision to turn around to head for the service and then back to the bivouac. That pulley cost us a 10’30” penalty, which knocked us back to a 7th overall position for the day.
That evening we managed to find and modify a pulley from a Toyota and we were good to go again. It was going to be pretty difficult to catch up again but we were going to give it a good shot!
Start to PC1 – 3rd position
PC1 to PC2 – no timing
Overall – 7th position
We started the day as the 15th car and by the time we had reached PC1 we were in second place, only 1’50” behind Novitsky 221. Reaching both PC 2 and 3, we maintained the 2nd position and were flying. Flying being the operative word. 4 kms past PC3 / Service (180 kms into the route) we were negotiating a series of dunes when we found a 20’ drop off. It was midday and the sand in that particular area was white, making it difficult to see the contours. The buggy launched itself off the top of the dune and landed on its nose, over onto its roof and coming to rest on the driver’s side. We climbed out, prepared a tow rope to pull the buggy back onto its wheels. The next competitor who came along pulled it over and carried on with his charge.
In the meantime, we were in touch with Rally Control via the Iritack system who despatched a helicopter with the medical team. They arrived 3 minutes later with the doctors who examined us there and then. Both Paul and I were OK, but in the interest of safety, we were airlifted to the hospital at the Madinat Zayed Hospital where we were both given a clean bill of health. Craig and Barry came to pick us up from the hospital whilst James, Laurie and Rick went in to the desert to recover the buggy with the permission of Rally Control. That was the race over for us.
There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes and without the team members we would have struggled to get even close to the results we were getting. They are the unsung heroes and this is where they get the credit they deserve. Rick, Gerald and Girish, worked relentlessly into the early hours to make sure that the buggy was in a fit condition for the next day. James pulled the team together with regards to logistics and overall care, whilst Craig took care of the daily updates and photography (his 7th year running!) and Laurie took care of the video editing and website. Barry was drafted in at the last minute and became the ‘gofer’ which helped when everyone else was up to their elbows in preparation. Dave Lowe stayed back in the UK and took care of the forum updates and last, but by no means least, Paul who never put a foot wrong as the co-driver. Thanks guys, we really showed them what we can do!
Castrol EDGE once again supported us and the Honda engine used the 10W/60 Sport throughout the event. It is a testament to the product that lubrication was never an issue, despite both water and oil temperatures reaching 115 ºC most of the time in the harsh desert conditions.
I would also like to thank all the supporters who dropped by the camp and sent us e-mails during the event. These small words of encouragement continued to motivate us to keep up the battle!
We made many new friends during this event and hope to see them all again in the future.
Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge - Leg 4 Video
Fly... Wednesday March 31st, 2010
Filmed, Edited and Uploaded DIRECT from the Bivouac in Liwa - here's the video footage shot by Laurie for the fourth leg of the 2010 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
Yesterday's hydraulic issues saw the Saluki drop back to 15th for the day and 7th overall, giving us a 15th place starting position for today. By mid-day we had climbed to 2nd place once again. Team Saluki were FLYING along... Unfortunately the mid-day sun and white sands are a tricky combination, and the buggy literally took flight off a 20 ft drop off, landing nose first, over on to it's roof and coming to rest on it's side. Not caught on camera I'm afraid!
We hope you enjoy this video. There's more to come!
Day 4 - 314 km Stage 4
Roll Over and Lay Down... Wednesday March 31st, 2010
To continue from where we stopped yesterday evening - we had set off in search of finding or fabricating a replacement for the 'performance' steering pump pulley that had sheared. We eventually managed to source a pulley from fellow competitor Team FJ, however it needed to be modified slightly to fit on our pump. The local fabrication shop of course had to remove the existing one from the shaft so set about taking the old pulley off with a local 'hacksaw'. To you and me a hacksaw is a hand operated tool that goes forward and back and is used for cutting metal. To the local, a hacksaw is a power operated tool that goes round very fast and grinds metal. That's right, he took a grinder to removing the small remains of the pulley. Of course, normal health and safety practices applied, he was squinting his eyes and wearing the obligatory safety sandals whilst grinding.
Regardless of how he did it, the end result was a fully functioning steering pump which was duly fitted with a new belt to the Castrol EDGE buggy. The car was ready again in when the clock had reached single digits, this time 3am. Sterling work by Rick, Gerald and Girish. To catch up on their sleep today we've decided to let James drive them to the service area. This will allow the guys to catch up on some missing sleep.
And now for something more serious, the race. The starting position for the buggy was in 15th place for the day, 7th overall. We had to take 10hours and 30 minutes of time penalties due to us missing waypoints yesterday but at least we're still in the running.
The start was excellent, setting off at one minute intervals, approximately two minutes after starting the buggy had caught it's first victim at the top of the first dune and had driven past the competitor as if they were out for Sunday ride in the country. This continued through the field with the buggy catching and passing the field.
By the end of PC1, the buggy was only 1:50 down on the leader, by PC2 this had dropped to 23 minutes, and by PC3 they had only dropped to 28 minutes. Continuing at this pace and they would be in second place for the day.
However, you knew there was going to be a however creeping in here didn't you. Sorry to say it was James that got THE call today, yes one of those calls. Much, much, much worse than yesterdays. On a scale from good to pretty bad, this was terrible. 180Km's into the stage at a speed of about 40Km/h it felt like the the antipodean gearbox had decided to right itself by turning the car on it's head to make the gearbox correct. The guys dropped off a dune which had a sharp drop. However due to the speed they were doing, it caused them to nose dive (remember last years video ?, No ? well it's here). The nose dropped into the dune, Newtonian physics then took over. The back end, now travelling faster than the front, continued in an upward motion. 40Km/h it seems is fast enough to generate enough force to push the back end of the buggy the complete length of the buggy into the air.
At this point Mr Gravity took over and decided that it wanted a piece of the action. He decided to pull the back end of the buggy over the front. At this point Mark and Paul have lovely view of the sand of the empty quarter through the windscreen which is now horizontal about 3 feet above the sand and moving forward.
Mr Gravity, not content with just inverting the car decided that due to the convex layout of the roof, that it would continue to pull down on the car with the lowest point of gravity being the pivot point. Mark is obviously heavier than Paul because the car ended up lying on the drivers side at 90 Degrees to the ground. The guys were in the car, strapped in to their chairs looking at the desert horizontally. Not good.
Paul immediately pressed the emergency button on the ERTF responder beacon, the response was instant although a bit like a badly set out call centre voice menu. A voice announced "Hello, do you require a helicopter ?" Paul responded with "No." The person on the other end announced "OK, a helicopter will with you in two minutes." Once out of the car, they surveyed the damage. Given the response from the ERTF system, they perhaps should have asked for a replacement car. This one had taken a beating. Doors were missing, body panels smashed, tyres missing from their rims and hydraulics leaking. Having said that I've seen worst cars with annual safety certificates.
They were however alive which at the end of the day is all that really matters.
The search and rescue helicopter turned up (thanks guys and gals) and as a precaution Mark and Paul were taken to the nearest hospital for a check up. A couple of X-rays later and some Paracetamol to numb some pain, they get the all clear.
Laurie and James ventured into the dunes to assess the status of the Buggy and come up with the best extraction strategy. The force of the accident had ripped the Central-Tyre-Inflation-System air tank off the bulkhead, which had damaged a braided steel hydraulic hose coming out of the pump. Laurie and Paul disconnected the CTIS, and manually inflated the rear tires. Laurie went back to the road to collect Rick, who after recovering from a ride along the now-closed Rally Route in Laurie's Jeep, was able to repair the Hydraulic Line. The buggy was now able to be driven out of the desert under it's own power, but unfortunately will not be able to continue the race tomorrow. It's now on the back of the trailer waiting to be returned to Dubai tomorrow morning.
Unfortunately for Team Saluki, like so many of the competitors that have fell before us, there's no other way to say it. That's us out of the challenge. It's will be a very sober mood in the camp this evening.
As always, as the event finishes on us I'll get Mark to send out one more update pulling together his take on the rally. In our first note to you we promised you a total of seven updates. Since this is only number six and there's nothing more to update you on tomorrow, we don't want to short change you. Give us a couple of days to gather our thoughts, senses and let our bodies recover.
Many thanks for your continued support.
This is Team Saluki, reporting for our entry in the Desert Challenge of 2010. Goodnight.
Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge - Leg 3 Video
Pick a part that's new... Tuesday March 30th, 2010
Filmed, Edited and Uploaded DIRECT from the Bivouac in Liwa - here's the video footage shot by Laurie for the fourth leg of the 2010 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
Today Team Saluki were continuing to lock down their hold on 2nd place overall, chasing 1st place holder Leonid Novitsky, and maintaining a lead on Laurent Rosso's Pathfinder. Unfortunately the pulley on the Power Steering Pump sheared off the hub, which also threw out the belt that drives the Alternator and Brake Booster and so on. Without power steering, power brakes, and an alternator to keep the battery charged, Team Saluki played it safe and returned to the road under their own power, crossed the finish line back towards the Bivouac, took the penalties for missed waypoints.
The Service and Support Team immediately set about "picking up a part that's new", and adapting it to make it work. It was a case of hurry up and wait though, as in the middle of Liwa the necessary fabrication shops were closed for the mid-day heat until 4 pm.
Our strong lead meant that even with these penalties, we were still 7th overall!
We hope you enjoy this video. There's more to come!
Day 3 - 337 km Stage 3
Under Pressure... Tuesday March 30th, 2010
What's that, no, I must be feeling ill. Yes, there is definitely a chill in the air this morning and thankfully it's not due to any air-conditioning. It was short lived though, two hours later and it's back to normal, 41ºC /105.7ºF. With all this talk of climate change - I wish some of it would happen here.
The Castrol EDGE buggy came into camp last night and Rick and the guys set about giving it the once over. It seems Mark and Paul had made some body modifications along the route yesterday and chose, as their tool of choice, the hardest dune that was out there. They managed to snap the headlight bracket and remove a piece of body work, yet again some more Powell / Richards patented aerodynamic modifications. The pieces that were considered non-essential by the drivers were recovered and re-attached, returning the car to it's former glory.
Nothing major to report from a servicing point of view, normal checks, clean, fluid checks - in fact the sort of items that don't make it into these daily updates as they're taken for granted. The same goes for the Team Saluki members - each of them just get on with the task they're responsible for like a well oiled machine. You'll understand that there's a lot of work and effort going in to keep a car on the road day after day. The majority of it goes un-reported but is crucial to getting and keeping the team and vehicle moving. Just sorting out the logistics for the next day e.g. who's going where and when can take a good 20 /30 minutes to sort out.
All the comments emailed to us have been printed out and stuck on the car for all to see (obviously we take them off before the car goes racing - to leave them on would just be stupid). They really do help, thankfully - the sloppy love messages from the Team members partners seems to have dried up. There's nothing worse that seeing a fully grown man getting weepy at the thought of a message from his wife - so no more messages like that please Snugglebuns.
Wifes / Partners take note: We're here to race, not to pander to any crisis you're having. You will get your man back when the race is over. Until then, the dripping tap can wait.
Anyway, I digress, onto todays stage. Having sorted out a helicopter for myself this afternoon, to get some nice overhead pictures, I'm kind of detached from the team awaiting it's arrival at the camp so it's been interesting to follow the car on the tracking system - I would say it's definitely more frustrating than watching it in real life. Watching it for the past hour or so and the update doesn't happen. The car is currently showing 0 Km/h when they should be moving. Even more annoying is the car that they previously overtook to get into second place is chasing them down - every minute they're standing still is another minute lost.
Then THE call comes. You know, the one that rings and you know it's bad news before you even answer it.
The steering pump pulley has sheared and the car is almost impossible to drive in the dunes without it - of course with this broken, the belt that normally runs the pump also drives a couple of other items such as the alternator, no belt = no electricity = no go. To continue in the desert in this state is impossible. Mark and Paul manage to get back to the service point under their own power where they can access the road. This time the title of "Co-Driver" really did apply as it took the strength of both Mark and Paul to steer the Saluki without the power-assist!
Once back on the road the Saluki was driven towards the finish line, and Team Saluki crossed the finish and took all the appropriate time penalties for missing all the waypoints. Saluki was doing so well that despite these penalties we only dropped to 15th place for the stage! Overall, we're still in 7th place!
Given the remoteness of the Empty Quarter it's strange to discover a couple of places which could potentially be engaged to make a new replacement for the pulley. I'd have to think hard where to find such a place in my home town, but here in the middle of the desert we can rustle up a few candidates. However the urgency of the Challenge has yet to hit the Liwa region, we're going to have to wait until 4pm for them to open up before we start asking questions. Rick and Barry have been sent to check them out.
Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge - Leg 2 Video
What have you done today to make you feel proud? Monday March 29th, 2010
Filmed, Edited and Uploaded DIRECT from the Bivouac in Liwa - here's the video footage shot by Laurie for the second leg of the 2010 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
On Day one Team Saluki made a cracking run towards a 4th place finish, having started in 23rd. That 4th place finish yesterday gives Team Saluki a 4th place starting position. Team Saluki continued to go strong and managed a 3rd place finish and extended the lead over the other competitors. Amazingly, the consistent high finishes, a 4th and a 3rd place put Team Saluki in 2nd place overall! The Saluki guys were hard to capture at many times... we'd get out of the car and they'd already be coming up to the view point, or already leaving! This is of course a good thing, as it means they're going fast and makes the team feel proud!
Also worth noting - The media chase team were also able to catch - the red Nissan Frontier - car number 240 driven by Mohammed Al-Mannai several times today. Mohammed Al-Mannai is driving a vehicle with modified controls to suit his disabilities. It's great to see their determination, and with a 30+ crew film production team including one private helicopter, expect to see some amazing footage on his story soon.
Day 2 - 305 km Stage 2
Time is tight Monday March 29th, 2010
The support team had worked long into the evening until the clock had reached single digits to get the Castrol EDGE buggy declared 100% fit and ready to take on the next, or should that read, that days stage. Laurie worked late on the Prologue Video which you can see below.
Just so you've got an idea of who's who within the motley crew that make up Team Saluki the following rogues gallery should put your mind at rest. Those of a nervous disposition may wish to look away now.
It's okay to look again - the scary men have gone.
The temperature has dropped today - by 1ºC. It's now only 41ºC /105.7ºF but the wind is still with us - any sunburn we gained at the dust bowl of a prologue has been well and truly sandblasted now from our skins.
Oh yes, that's right you want to know how we're doing with the race.
So the day had Team Saluki starting in 4th place, when they came through PC1, they were already in second place. The guys seemed to be coping well with the upside down antipodean gearbox and were cracking on regardless. Passing PC2 and the service point, they're still the second car to come through. At the end of the stage, they've provisionally been given 3rd place for the stage which puts them into 2nd place for the event with a lead of approximately eight minutes over their nearest competitor. A cracking achievement given the heat and conditions they were going through today. To say they were flying is an understatement. We tried to catch them from one PC point to the next viewing point on what is almost a straight road for us and dunes and tracks for the buggy. We arrived, heard the buggy coming through the distinctive rasp the engine has, we got out of the car and made a dash down the underpass to grab some shots. We got some nice ones of the car vanishing into the distance. We weren't quick enough.
Having just barely missed the Saluki at the view point, we decided to get to the finish as quick as we could and meet up with the service crew who were waiting for the cars arrival, as long as we could do a minor detour to get another cappuccino prior to turning off to head back to camp. Thankfully we made it in time to see them cross the line.
As I write, the cars back in Camp Saluki and is getting checked over by the mechanics. We've downloaded the in-car footage we've shot in HD and provided that to the TV crews who were asking specifically for it. Todays footage was internal car shots so the two scary men in the photo below may be appearing on a screen near you shortly.
Also, we are happy to report that Saulius Jurgelenas, the Co-Driver that Laurie and Barry assisted on to the Rescue Helicopter yesterday is recovering well, and after X-rays and various tests is all-clear, and has re-joined his team back at the Bivouac. Although the team is out of the challenge now, it's great to see them stick around until the end.
Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge - Leg 1 Video
Bat out of Hell... Sunday March 28th, 2010
Filmed, Edited and Uploaded DIRECT from the Bivouac in Liwa - here's the video footage shot by Laurie for the first leg of the 2010 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
This first leg saw the teams race through 286 kilometers from Abu Dhabi down to Liwa. It was certainly a tough day out for both man and machine, with the hot weather and harsh terrain. The Saluki was able to stretch it's legs on the course, and from a starting position of 23rd, relentlessly hunted down it's prey and finished in 4th position!
We hope you enjoy this video. There's more to come!
Day 1 - 286 km Stage 1
Rollin Rollin Rollin... Sunday March 28th, 2010
At the F1 circuit, the Castrol EDGE buggy went off it's separate way to the official start of day one. This was going to be a 286Km 'easy' run first day for the competitors whilst the rest of the support teams headed down towards a choice of positions depending on what you were doing.
Service crew (Rick, Girish, Gerald and James) all headed for the Service Area whilst Barry, Craig and Laurie headed for viewing point one, followed by viewing point two.
With the buggy starting the competition in 23rd place, the guys were looking to hunt down the competitors and to start working their way up the field, and that's just exactly what they did. Their first victims, sorry I mean fellow competitors, were passed within two minutes of leaving the start lines. Stuck in the dunes, they were in the middle of extracting themselves when the buggy blew passed hunting down the truck that had left the start line 1 minute before the buggy had. Another minute and the truck was history as the buggy overtook it on a charge.
By the time the buggy had reached the first underpass (viewing point one) it had made up nine places and came through there in 14th place. The guys were on a storm.
At the second underpass they were still going strong and had passed another couple of vehicles. However on the way into the second underpass they had avoided a stricken vehicle driven by Benediktas Vanagas / Saulius Jurgelenas. What they didn't notice was that Team Saluki members Barry and Laurie were helping to extract and load co-driver Saulius into the Search and Rescue helicopter after a nasty drop from a dune had jarred his spine. Once loaded on to the helicopter, they then towed Benediktas from his stuck location. All at Team Saluki wish Saulius a safe and speedy recovery.
Meeting up with the buggy at the finish line we discussed how today had gone. A new gearbox had been sourced from a reputable antipodean supplier, however it seems that they may have made a minor error on the way the cogs are assembled - changing from 4th to 5th appears normal, but changing from 5th to 6th causes the engine to rev, almost as if you'd put it back into 4th by mistake. We believe they've got gears 5 and 6 the wrong way round. Mark is having to change gears using an alternative method. 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 5 and of course the reverse for changing down. A minor inconvenience but easy enough to work around.
Provisional result are in, we're currently in 4th place overall - a cracking start to the challenge. Just six minutes behind 3rd place.
We've established base camp Team Saluki down at Moreeb Dune at Liwa and as always the team will go our separate ways tomorrow morning to provide coverage over the 386Km stage. I don't think I'll travel with Barry though - he took great pride in singing all the words, and I mean ALL the words to Disney's Jungle Book - 'I wanna be like you'. He even had some actions that went with the words - Heaven forbid.
Filmed, Edited and Uploaded DIRECT from the Bivouac in Liwa - here's the video footage shot by Laurie for the Prologue of the 2010 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
The Prologue was held at the Al-Forsan sports center and featured a special track where two competitors race side by side in a time trial. The parallel tracks with a cross over mean both cars drive the exact same route, exactly half a track-length apart, but with the same Start / Finish gate.
It was a very hot day and your camera man is quite badly dehydrated, but insists it was well worth it and promises to stay in the shade as much as possible for the rest of the week.
D-Day-1 Prologue & Ceremonial Start
It's an ill wind that blows... Saturday March 27th, 2010
But first the weather. It's 42°C / 107°F. The description of the prologue location sounded almost idyllic. To be held at the Al Forsan International Sports Resort, we dreamed of lush grass, water features and palm trees.
We got a dust bowl. They obviously haven't developed this part of the resort yet.
The circuit for the first time was two interlooping circuits connected to each other and vehicles would race in tandem - fastest to complete two laps wins the day and will start in first place tomorrow. Since Team Saluki never like to go all out at the prologue, normally the circuits are too tight and twisted for a vehicles that likes to stretch it's legs, the guys took it easy getting the feel of the Nitto tyres.
The wind had whipped up today and the result was a minor dust storm every time a car went past - just as you had recovered from that , the other vehicle on the circuit came past in the opposite direction and covered you in fine dust. Nice. By the end of the day most of us had collected what amounts to a small beach in our ears / hair / clothes - I feel sorry for the shower drains this evening.
The Castrol EDGE buggy finished in 23rd place which will make for an interesting day tomorrow by giving the buggy the opportunity to hunt down its prey and overtake them..
As we left the prologue whilst navigating a roundabout, a minor misfortune took place with the trailer that we normally carry the buggy on. The locking bolt for the ball joint gave way with obvious result - the trailer decided to go a different direction from the support truck. Safety minded, the trailer was fitted with two chains which securely held the trailer behind the truck whilst they stopped. Five minutes later and we're rolling again. Thankfully the buggy was not on the trailer at the time.
At the next roundabout, a distance of about 500Mts from our wandering trailer escapade Mark had pulled the buggy to a stop with indications of low gearbox oil pressure. Investigations concluded that the oil pump was at fault - it was still working but the heat of the day and the slow traffic speed we were doing didn't agree with it's normal operating temperature, there were quite a few of us that were outside our comfort zone also so we knew how the little pump felt. Ever resourceful, the team fabricated a protective heat shield and fitted it to the car all whilst we were stopped at the side of the road. It seems to have done the trick and we made it successfully to ceremonial start at the Grand Mosque.
We had a couple of hours to fill in so the team busied themselves with tidying up various bits and pieces on the car, gave it a clean and prepared it for the ceremonial start. we also took this opportunity to catch up on some food. By this time it's about 5pm and some of us hadn't eaten since breakfast, Barry (the student) hadn't eaten since the night before and obviously doesn't understand the concept of breakfast. We ventured out and procured for the team the only thing we really could have as a team - a family bucket (two actually) of chicken and chips. I'm not going to name which restaurant chain it comes from but it rhymes with Unlucky Fried Kitten. It was lush and sorely needed.
With the car just needing to cross the ramp at the ceremonial start - the two support vehicles parted separate ways - the main support truck (called Dually / Julie) and the trailer headed back to the F1 circuit where it would stay over night whilst the other support truck (affectionately called Brenda) headed back to Dubai with the service crew on board.
Yes folks, it’s that time of the year again when Team Saluki take on the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in a 2000 Km / 1242 Miles, five day off-road event held in the Empty Quarter of the United Arab Emirates.
As always, prior to racing, scrutineering as per FIA regulations has to take place to ensure that the cars comply with the latest racing standards to ensure safety. This involves a small collection of people who crawl all over the vehicles checking in minute detail items such as fire extinguishing systems and fuel tanks are current and valid. It’s always a nail-biting time for entrants and their support crews, if something is wrong it can mean teams making last minute changes to their vehicles late into the night to comply with the regulations in order to race.
Scrutineering in previous years has been torturous with long delays in outdoor spaces subject to the beating sun. This year it was a completely different affair. Held in the pit area of the Yas Marina F1 circuit, it was air-conditioned luxury. Perhaps the organisers are taking pity on us given that the temperature outside today was a balmy 39 °C / 102 °F.
You’ll be glad to read that the Castrol EDGE buggy got a clean bill of health yet again, allowing the support crew to have an early night. Well when I say an early night – as I write this (21:30) we’re still in the workshop getting things ready for the logistical part of the race – up and down the road several times over the next couple of days between Dubai and Abu Dhabi – a journey time of 90 minutes each way.
Team Salukis’ motley crew this year consist of a lean but mean crew. Although some are less lean and others are more mean but the less said the better.
Mark - Driver
Paul – Co-driver
James - Team Manager
Barry - New boy on the block (think of Barry as a student with dreadlocks because that’s exactly what he is).
Rick - Mechanic
Girish - Mechanic
Gerard - Mechanic
Laurie – Website and video.
Craig - Photography and writing. (so you can blame me if you don’t like it.)
This year we’re trying new tyres on the Castrol EDGE buggy, they’ve been provided by NITTO and they’re called Dune Grabbers and they’re built for the desert terrain. From our point of view they’ve certainly got the correct name as where we’re taking them there is nothing apart from dunes, we look forward to exploring their capabilities.
Once the race gets going in anger – you’ll be able to follow the progress of Team Saluki on the live tracking link here: Tracking. We are car 209 and it won't become active until Stage 1 starts (Sunday) – remember depending upon where you live the clocks may go forward one hour this weekend so Sunday morning may be an hour later where you are.
Tomorrow it’s an early start (do we ever get a late start?) and we’re looking to be wagons rolling back to Abu Dhabi for the Prologue which starts at 11:00am which will then determine the start positions for the race which will actually start the day after.
We plan to send out a single update per day for the event (which means a total of 7 including this).
If you wish you can send messages to the team (please no soppy love messages from wives or girlfriends missing their partners, yes that means you) and I’ll make sure they’re posted in the camp for all to read. Just reply to this email or send a new one to firstname.lastname@example.org