Day 1 Douz - Chenini S.S.1 In the easy dune-section of the first half of the stage the Kumho-Buggy gave a great performance. The second half was dominated by curvy, rough tracks. The material and drivers had their first real test. The 4x4 Fiat ...
Day 1 Douz - Chenini S.S.1
In the easy dune-section of the first half of the stage the Kumho-Buggy gave a great performance. The second half was dominated by curvy, rough tracks. The material and drivers had their first real test. The 4x4 Fiat Pandas showed its robust construction on one of the shortest, but toughest super specials.
Day 2 Chenini-Ghadames Liaison
On this day we had a little magic happen: as the first Rallye or group ever to cross the border at Nalut the LDC passed through smoothly having previously put in a tremendous amount of paperwork preparation. To save time for the great dunes, the most southern possible checkpoint crossing was opened for the rallye by Aania Tours, the Libyan partners. The authorities on both sides of the border were prepared, but nervous. Within 2 hours we passed the Libyan formalities and received a police escort out of the border area for the next 50 km as far as Nalut. From there the bikes were loaded onto the sweeper truck to save the drivers from the hardship and boredom of riding 300 kms of tarmac liaison down to the Saharan city of Ghadames. That night the temperature fell to -5 Degrees Celsius (bloody freezing!).
Day 3 Ghadames - Desert Bivouac Aania S.S.2
Today's stage was as a rough super special across the Hamada, the flat, huge area north of the Idan Ubari; a lunar landscape of black rocks followed by a 'Sea of Sand'. Team 105 Deibel/Steiberger faded out after only 8km due to a suspension problem. Afterwards, the Kumho-Buggy of Team 110 (Andrea Mayer/Thomas Schulte) briefly caught fire. Due to the mandatory safety equipment the fire was out in seconds inside rear-mounted engine bay. An oil-pipe had come apart and the hot engine oil caught fire on the hot exhaust. This caused the team to arrive at the finish in last place after 11 hours, but still in the rallye. Winner of the day was the Team 102 Poljanec / Robic on a Jeep Wrangler 4.0, second of the day's stage was Team 101 Krivic / Goriup on Puch 290G, followed directly by Team 107 Koepp, O. / Jahnke. The organization managed the super special on time and also the fuel logistics by Aania Tours worked 100%.
Day 4 Desert Bivouac Aania - Camp Al Awynat S.S.3
Due to the heavy rainfalls over the last few days, the previously extremely tough dune section turned into a "bypass the new lakes Special Stage" with much easier dune-climbing due to the firmer sand. However, some of the 'chotts' (salt lakes) became traps for some of the competitors. The track was more difficult than last year and took its toll on the riders and drivers. Everyone was exhausted by the time they reached the Alfaw camp site in the city of Al Awynat, (literally, The "tear of God"). Winner of the day was Team 110 Andrea Mayer/Thomas Schulte with a half hour advantage on Team 107 Koepp, O. / Jahnke. The Enduro class was dominated at this point by Carlo Lumia on a Suzuki DRZ400 followed by Tom Beckett on a KTM 450EXC, despite the shoulder injuries which Tom suffered on day one. Tom was determined to continue racing because the mental torture he would have suffered sitting in a support vehicle would have been worse than the pain of the broken bone and torn ligaments in his shoulder!
Day 5 Camp Al Awynat - Camp Al Awynat; two loops consisting of S.S.4
('Marble Madness') and S.S.5 (Akakus Mountains)
The first 'Marble Madness' loop of 129kms through the dunes was linked to the second 137km loop in the Akakus mountains by a one hour liaison passing back through Al Awynat. The organisers had their own special test today: to find Paul 'Elvis' Howard. Elvis had crashed his KTM 525MXC, hurting his back and destroying his navigation equipment. He nevertheless tried to re-trace his steps back to the start but unfortunately went miles off track, ending up some 30kms away from the route. Thanks to the satellite Iridium phone (which all riders carry) he was able to contact the organisers but the information he gave them about his whereabouts was wildly inaccurate. However, they eventually managed to 'sniff him out' by following his tracks in the sand and bring him safely back to camp in time for dinner (with the doctor riding his bike!). He was very sore, but determined to race again on Monday after Sunday's scheduled rest day. Unfortunately, due to an unavoidable glitch, the bike results for SS5 could only be calculated as far as the first checkpoint but things were sorted out in time for the whole of the stage to count for the cars. Bike class leader Carlo Lumia suffered a holed clutch cover due to hitting a rock, but was eventually able to repair the damage on the piste using some 'chemical metal' kindly lent by fellow biker Karim Hussain. He nevertheless suffered a two hour delay and a 6 hour penalty, ending his chances of winning the rallye. Carlo's misfortune meant that Werner Pfeuffer (KTM525mxc) took the stage win along with the overall lead.
Day 6 camp Al Awynat - Camp Africa 137km liason 167km dune stage
After refueling at the stage start the bikes left at the usual 1 minute intervals, the day consisted of very little flat off road piste followed by spectacular all sand with high dune crossings interspersed with long fast sand valleys, the bikes of pfeuffer, beckett & evers-schafer caught up with each other before the dunes and rode together for most of the stage, with hussein crossing their path on a regular basis, the speed of the 650 honda being faster in the flat fast sand valleys, lumia started the stage some two hours late after destroying his tyre in the liaison stage, Paul Blezard rode alone but due to misunderstanding instructions in the drivers briefing missed the finish unfortunately until that point his best (most organized) day.
Results of the day were: Enduros: Karim Hussain 2:05:10 / Ilka Evers-Schafer 2:09:25 / Tom Beckett 2:10:25 Cars: Mayer-Schulte 1:57:56 / Kruger-Muhmel 2:38:05 / Krivic-Goriup 2:38:32