PHARAONS INTERNATIONAL CROSS COUNTRY RALLY
1-9 october 2006
STAGE N.5: BAHARIA - SIWA
SPECIAL TEST: Km 375,34
TRANSFER: Km 72,90
TOTAL: Km 448,24
This SS presents a wide variety of landscapes and grounds. The Start is near the Bahariya bivouac, towards West, but the way turns immediately North towards the sandy slope (km 3,60) of the great falaise and we enter a quite fast track that takes us to CP1 (km 72,51). The ground is at times stony, winding and then fluid, turning then to be fast and straight, presenting at intervals some transversal ouadis and many steps that force us to be continuously careful! Once crossed the Bahariya-Siwa road, the landscape changes and the ground becomes sandy, we cross some chain of dunes in HP towards NW direction, with some insidious passages (km 83,30), sometimes in soft and yielding sand.
At about km 120, the trace becomes more and more visible presenting a quite bumpy ground. Be careful! From km 130, continuing towards CP2 we have very visible traces at intervals and for some parts in HP. CP2 (km 164,35) is high on top of a stony hill. The only access to the top is through a sandy and tortuous ouadi with a very steep ascent. This access may become impracticable after the passage of a certain number of competitors over the sand. You may then be obliged to look for new passages on the banks of the hill or to gather more impetus to succeed in climbing up to the top.
We drive down the CP2 hill passing from another sandy ouadi (Be careful!!!) and you continue towards the Siwa depression, be careful to some crossings in HP (km 176,12 and km 180,97). Now while crossing some dunes, traces become at times more visible and we drive towards the CP3 (km 201,56), point of assistance and fuel motorbike, always on the road going to Siwa. The ground changes: for over 30 km we drive through the Ghrud El Surah fascinating dunes, and then we enter an ancient caravan way dating back to pharaoh time connecting Bahariya to Sitra and Siwa. This track is now very well traced and fast, but the ground is at times undulating and bumpy and it maintains itself South of the dunes for almost 40 km, until we reach about km 180. Then we enter the dunes area again that will take us to climb the falaise of a spectacular sandy formation.
Driving through a sandy off-road we reach CP4 (km 295,70) encountering some parts with more visible traces, be careful to some over crossing of dunes (km 287,53 e 293,12)and of slopes of hard ground (km 292,22 and 292,72). After CP4 we continue towards North-West skirting now some evocative mountainous formations, now some chains of dunes, always in HP until we reach about km 314, when traces become more visible to turn out into a visible track after about 8 km, at Km 322,72. The CAP is fairly constant: North-North-West in direction of Siwa, the way becomes as we proceed sandy with some crossing of "cut" dunes, be careful at about Km 347. With this same landscape and type of ground we reach the stage Finish at 72,90 km from the Siwa bivouac, near the asphalt road.
Siwa, 7 october 2006
Shmakov gets the favour of the oracle
Leading to the splendid oasis of Siwa, where the dunes are dying in a lake in the shade of majestic rocks eroded by the years, the wind and the sand, the 5th stage of the Total Pharaons International Rally has seen a new significant change at the head of the race. Winner of the cars stage, the Russian Shmakov (Buggy Zil) grabbed the leader position of the general ranking, on two wheels, the victory came back to David Casteu (KTM), who, in spite of fighting for a final podium position, took the opportunity to exercise his navigation skills in this exceptional environment.
SIWA - The legend tells that Alexandre The Great would have come here, to Siwa, consult the oracle of Amon to acquire the certainty of his divine filiation. One also whispers that he would have asked to be buried in this magnificent oasis, without any doubt the most authentic and most glowing of the Libyan plateau. But one does not tell such stories to Sergey Shmakov.
The driver and entrepreneur based in Moscow does only have one certitude, the one of the right foot shoved to the maximum on the accelerator pedal of its Buggy Zil. Deprived from the first position two days ago after having suffered some gear-box problems, the Russian driver swore that he would counterattack during the two stages toward and from Siwa. Far from imagining the troubles that was facing Jose-Luis Monterde (BMW X5) from the first kilometres of the special, Shmakov managed a splendid double good operation, first by taking back the first spot with about 50 minutes ahead of the other BMW X5 from the Brazilian Nobre. As for Jose Luis Monterde (BMW X5), he had only his tears to implore the divinities of the desert.
Taking off in second position, the Spaniard was victim of a double punctured before to realise that his gear-box was showing some signs of weakness. Against his will, he had to stop at the assistance point, right after CP1, in order to install a new one, who turned out to be also defective. It goes without to say that the complete operation cost more than two hours and Monterde as well as his co-driver Jean-Marie Lurquin saw the foreseeable victory to fly away. The only positive point for the Spanish-Belgium team is that, despite the 3h43 conceded during this stage, they are still on the provisory podium. Second today, the Hungarian Sandor Kis (Nissan Pickup) benefited from the occasion to show the full potential of his new car. Other remarkable performance, the 5th spot of Laurent Rosso (Nissan Pathfinder), first in the T2 category stage, behind the Israeli Heymann Raz and Segal (Mitsubishi Pajero), but also just ahead of the category's leader Christian Lavieille (Nissan Pathfinder), once again suffering engine misfiring due to a faulty ignition sensor. Seventh of the stage, the Iveco truck from Giacomo Vismara is still racing comfortably ahead in the category, in which some other competitors tried to realise some stunts at the end of the stage. That is how the Unimog from Bellina, like the Iveco from Rickler rolled almost at the same position at the end of the trail. Fortunately, no injury has been recorded for none of the two teams, who have joined the bivouac of Siwa unhurt.
Bad news in bikes, for which about ten withdrawals have occurred this morning due to the bad fuel quality delivered at the station in Farafra two days back. Leading the bikes division today, the show has been guaranteed by David Casteu (KTM). The French rider, leader of the Rally World Cup , but left behind the elite group from the first stage, where he suffered some carburetion problems, took the advantage of a navigation mistake from the head-group driven by Marc Coma (KTM) and Jordi Viladoms (KTM) to get away. A new victory then for the pleasant motorcyclist of Nice, whose dreams for a podium and a world title decrease a little more every day as the rally gets closer to Cairo. With still over thirty minutes behind the 5th place, and less than two days to go before the end of the rally, The chances for Casteu to bridge the gap with the top 3 riders before Monday, in front of the Pyramids are becoming very lean. In the contrary excellent operation for Francisco Lopez (Honda 450), who clocked the second time of the day and signed in the meantime his best result on the African soil. It is useless to mention that the Chilean is mastering the small cubic- capacity engines category. On the overall standing after leg 5, despite of the four minutes conceded today, Marc Coma (KTM) keeps the leader spot, ahead of his team mate Jordi Viladoms (KTM) and Carlo De Gavardo (KTM).
-credit: JVD International