Dakar: Team Rally Pan America stage 11 report

After two nights in Nema for the Dakar, the rally caravan has moved to Ayoun al Atrous. Today was just a ride down the pavement through some desert, savannah, and villages. As it is Mauritania, the people are very poor, but this section of the ...

After two nights in Nema for the Dakar, the rally caravan has moved to Ayoun al Atrous. Today was just a ride down the pavement through some desert, savannah, and villages. As it is Mauritania, the people are very poor, but this section of the country seems just a little less so than others. Because the 2-day stage to Timbuktu from Nema was cancelled and turned into a loop from Nema, today was an extra day. No racing, just moving the bivouac. Tomorrow everyone races to Kayes, and we enter Mali, the 5th country of the rally.

Our TRPA pit has shrunk to 4 bikes, but there still seems to be lots of work to do. Niles and I gassed up Casey and Steve's bikes last night, and it seems we got a bad barrel from the ASO. Neither bike ran well today and the mechanics are sorting them now. For the first time in the rally, Paul's bike is resting quietly and Gary Williams has time to look over someone else's shoulder. Paul needed only tires today. Jim is fixing a few skidplate issues for Chris, and they are tag-teaming a service on the LC4.

Since there is no real racing news, I'll fill you in on what we've seen recently. The ASO is apparently after Robb and I for speeding. Our assistance cars are limited to 120 kph. We set the Ford cruise controls at 118 and freight train from bivouac to bivouac. The Euro cars can't cut it so close without cruise control, and the little motors can't keep up with us on the hills. So, we pass lots of people, and apparently some of them have complained. But, when they download our GPS at the end of the day, we are perfectly clean, no speeding. The authorities are apparently befuddled, and had a car tailing Robb all day today.

We talked to Kevin Heath in Atar. Kevin is Ronn Bailey's navigator in the Vanguard car. We have not seen them recently, so maybe they are out. (That's the thing about the Dakar, you have absolutely no time to pay attention to the race, so you don't know who is in or out, or how anyone is doing other than your team.) Kevin says Ronn rolled the car 10 times on 4 different occasions before Atar, once on the freeway in Portugal. The car was certainly looking well worn, held together with a series of straps and missing lots of bodywork. Their crew is working hard! We say Ronn's assistance trucks heading back into Atar as we drove out, which is never a good sign.

Patsy and Clive have adopted the Turkish Jim Beam guys. They are not a big money team, and didn't even bring a support crew, so they could certainly use the help.

Ayoun seems a little less dusty than Nema. If you took a shower in Nema, you were filthy with dust within minutes of stepping out. As Chris Blais says, we're just moving from dust bowl to dust bowl. Nobody is clean, but I think everyone is still having fun.

Racing tomorrow should be good.  No more dunes, but more tracks with trees,
animals and villages.  Jonah would have loved this!

-credit: trpa

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Chris Blais , Ronn Bailey , Kevin Heath , Gary Williams , Jim Beam
Teams Williams