The longest stage yet in the Dakar tested the rookie team with the fine sand.
A group of men in red shirts and sacks in their hands came to the G-Force camp the other night, but it wasn’t Father Christmas bearing gifts, no, just the ASO technical inspectors coming to congratulate Boris Gadasin for getting into the Top 10 by putting seals on many different components of the car! It was a strange welcome and the team looked on quite bemused but decided to take the experience as an honour…
One other thing that can get you through such places is experience and Stephane Peterhansel still making it look easy over 20 years after his first victory even though Nasser Al-Attiyah caught up to within a minute and twenty seconds to the venerable 9- time winner.
But it wasn’t such a wonderful day for G-Force as co-driver Alexey Kuzmich explains. “There were a lot of complicated zig-zags in the roadbook with a lot of pits marked but it was hard to tell where exactly we were and unfortunately we fell into a large gully. It was a hard hit, my helmet broke the windscreen and the suspension was torn off the front of the car. We spent about three hours fixing it enough to be able to carry on and then helping others who crashed in the same place. Eduard Nikoleav in the Kamaz also crashed here and so the organisers came to park a car to warn others of the hole… but of course, that was a bit too late for us. We carried on for 100km in just rear-wheel drive which of course cost us more time on every kilometre... So it was a very long day and now we need rest and massage to get ready to do it all again tomorrow...
Team-mate Vladimir Vasiliev also had a tough day. “A drive shaft for a front wheel snapped off and just flew away and through all the hard sand traps it was just luck that we were going fast enough to just carry the momentum through them. With just two wheel drive it would have been very hard to get out. But we came here to South America to learn and that is exactly what we are doing...”
It’s just a pity that lessons at Dakar are always such hard ones! Boris drops down from the glorious highs of Number 9 down to 25th, just one place behind the orange Hummer of Robby Gordon and Vladirmir assumes the mantle of top G-Force driver, in 21st. But there is still a very long way to go... and lots more to learn!
G-Force Motorsports/Robb Pitchard