Two days ago everybody was convinced they were out of the race after a huge crash on the Tan Tan -- Zouerat stage that virtually destroyed their car. But Ronn Bailey and Kevin Heath are apparently made of rubber and bounced back to finish that...
Two days ago everybody was convinced they were out of the race after a huge crash on the Tan Tan -- Zouerat stage that virtually destroyed their car. But Ronn Bailey and Kevin Heath are apparently made of rubber and bounced back to finish that stage before directly taking the start of stage 7 from Zouerat to Atar -- 19 hours of non-stop racing! Now they are reunited with their assistance crew in Atar for the rest day. The car is being almost completely rebuilt and will be ready to start the second part of the rally tomorrow morning.
"The first part of the special to Zouerat was really fast. We were racing from chott to chott (dried up salt lakes) and going at between 170 / 175 kph when we hit a small dip - the kind we have hit thousands of times before. But with the car full of fuel the rear shocks bottomed out and the back came up. We flew 150 feet, landed on the nose, flipped over twice and then rolled another three times. As we were rolling our arms were thrown out of the cockpit with the G force and we struggled desperately to pull them back in. Incredibly we once again landed on our wheels but there was debris strewn for hundreds of feet in all directions. We were pretty dazed and it took us about an hour of staggering around just to get all our stuff together. Although we felt ok but we flagged down a passing medical helicopter to get ourselves checked out."
"Our first thought was that our race was finally over. They only open the border for the race, normally it is a kind of no-mans land with loads of mine fields, and once everybody has been through they seal it shut again. Our initial idea therefore was to wait for our assistance truck, strip the car of anything of value and then give it a Viking burial. But the more we looked at it the more we began to realise that it might just be possible to fix it."
"Three hours later our assistance truck turned up and they couldn't believe their eyes. When we started to tell them we thought it could be fixed they told us we were crazy. So we went over each individual broken part and asked the question, 'could this be repaired'. Finally we convinced them it was possible and they went to work."
"Kevin and I slept for maybe three hours while the mechanics lashed the car together and then they woke us up to tell us we were ready to go. We nursed the car into Zouerat and reached the end of the stage at around 10.15 in the morning with minutes to spare. We rushed to check in and then went straight to the start of the stage to Atar. Luckily there was a huge sand storm on the Zouerat -- Atar stage, so bad the helicopters couldn't fly, so they cut the route by 140 km and we finally got to Atar late last night after 19 hours non-stop driving."
"Right now the mechanics are completely rebuilding our buggy -- you wouldn't believe what they have achieved and I am really proud of them. I have had a long talk with Kevin and our team manager Gilles and we have decided to revise our stratergy. From now on we are going to take it real easy. We have been through so much that it would be a crime now not to make it to Dakar. So we are going into cruise mode for the rest of the race and will hopefully make it to Lac Rose."