UAE Desert Challenge: Team Saluki final leg summary

Apologies for the lateness of this update but it was a very very long day yesterday and most of us didn't get into our bed until 2am this morning. Yes I know we're slacking but it's been a long week and the appeal of an ice cold drink, a nice...

Apologies for the lateness of this update but it was a very very long day yesterday and most of us didn't get into our bed until 2am this morning. Yes I know we're slacking but it's been a long week and the appeal of an ice cold drink, a nice shower and a comfy bed got the better of us.

The evening before the last day is always a strange one - the camp changes as most of it is packed up onto the transport truck and we're left with the basics - tables, chairs and of course the our own conversation. One of the many topics discussed during the evening was the challenge. Not the race but the quest to satisfy Tracy's longing for a specific man. Nothing particular in that, but she's quite detailed in what she's looking for. Not that she's thought about it long and hard but we've decided to write her a wanted ad to expand her search. She'll probably kill me for this - but we like to see people happy so anything is worth a try.

Tracy, Team Saluki team member (but don't hold that against me), would like to meet a man, age not that important but must have the strength of Jack Bauer, the body of Hugh Jackman and the voice of Clive Mantle. Personality not important and you'll only be needed for one night a week (Friday). If you feel you meet this criteria and more importantly are available for the specific one night a week get in touch with us through the website, please include a photograph of yourself.

Now back to other less important things - the other challenge.

An early start for the final leg heading back up to near where we started - Dubai, which means it's an early start for everyone. The service crew have got to get to the service area which is a 4 hour drive via the road or probably about 2 hours across the desert on gatch tracks. Paul and Roel opt for the latter whilst Craig heads out on the 4 hour road journey with a plan of meeting the Saluki somewhere between service and the start of the next stage. The Saluki heads off un-escorted at the start and heads it's long way back north. Four hours later - Craig's standing at the service area by himself - he then receives a call from the service crew - all attempts to get from the desert out to the correct road had failed and they were now passing an area on the road that Craig had passed about 90 minutes previously. The phone call was ironically timed to perfection - the service crew asking for road directions to get to the service area and the Saluki making an appearance over the dunes heading for the service area. The Saluki, true to previous days didn't need anything - some water for the guys and then we are e on our way up the road to the start of the second stage. En-route, a rendevouz point is made with the service crew to meet at petrol station about 90Km from where we both were - amazingly they managed to find it.

We see them off at the start of the second stage of the day and Paul and Roel head for PC 2 to catch them there as they go past whilst everyone else in the team has headed to the flying finish near Dubai. Passing the Schlesser buggy which looks like it's had a bad roll, the Saluki guys check on the occupants condition and are given the thumbs up so continue towards the finish. 5 Km from where the other buggy had crashed the Saluki had an appointment at a drive through panel beating shop.

Standing at the finish line we receive the call from Paul, he can't be lost again, unfortunately it's not as simple as that he opens the conversation with "They've rolled it." Not exactly what we wanted to hear - but he did finish with "But they're underway again" Word spreads quickly through the band of Saluki supporters at the finish line and we're all thankful that the guys are okay.

Describing the body shop incident, they came down familiar section at speed and assumed that the sand spits that lay ahead were similar to those that they've experienced previously during the whole of the event. Suddenly realising that they were worse, they turned to avoid them, the front left wheel dug in, the Saluki then pirouetted on a 360 degree barrel roll with a twist, spinning and landing on it's wheels the correct way up again.

Amazingly this happened to be over the dune from where some team followers were spectating. Tim looked up at the top of the dune and thinks he's in a dream - of all the places to have an incident the first people that come to check their status are supporters, seeing that the guys are fine is a relief for them. Using some tape that's in the on board toolbox, the guys tape the now destroyed rear bodywork together to get them over the finish line. The front left tyre was burst and was changed using the on-board hydraulic jack, The rear shock was damaged during the crash so with a now wobbling rear wheel due to the structural damage the guys with determination stirring them on, head off for finish line, some 60Km distant.

At the finish, the Saluki almost comes to a stop due to a Marshall slowing them down for some ruts in the track that had caused a couple of bikers incidents just 200 M from the finish line. The same place that the guys almost used their Landrover as a pile driver at last years event. The ruts are clearly marked in the road book but concentration must drop when there are so many people and the finish is in sight.

Justin Carter was badly bruised but did finish the race successfully. The Saluki crossed the finish line with no problems apart from the obvious battle scars, but it had been a long trying day in the car as once they were parked up the guys had shall we say a few words with each other.

The results of the event are that we came in 13th overall and considering that 51 vehicles actually entered the event, most of which didn't complete the course were happy with this position. Team Saluki came in First in Class (T1.3) and are currently 3rd in the Gulf. A tremendous achievement.

Off we toddled to the end of event dinner last night. Chilled drinks and a nice buffet finished the event nicely. Unfortunately the wine they were trying to sell us wasn't exactly being sold with the sauve and sophistication that's normally associated with French wine. Our resident wine expert got the job of tasting it and for the first time ever actually sent the bottle back. To say it was bad would be being kind to it - we believe they only reason it was exported from France was that the French wouldn't drink it so we give them credit for that.

Another years done, another challenge completed. We hope you've enjoyed the updates we've sent you and I hope to get the guys to put something together for you in the next couple of days.


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Series Cross-Country Rally