An easy saturday in the bivouac Two days ago the rally was in Antofagasta as well, only the amouth of competitors is considerably lower today. This means enough room for everyone and a pleasant bivouac. This is the day the mechanics try to renew...
An easy saturday in the bivouac
Two days ago the rally was in Antofagasta as well, only the amouth of competitors is considerably lower today. This means enough room for everyone and a pleasant bivouac. This is the day the mechanics try to renew the vehicles as good as possible. There is a lot of work to do, and luckily there is time. If you think a mechanic sees anything at all from the competition: no way. The work on the bikes is done at night, and sleep - well, you can try during the trips from bivouac to bivouac. There is no time left to check the starts or finish of your riders. It's the same story for Team Honda Europe.
Hans Polsvoort is driver of the big 6x6 GINAF servicetruck with all the materials, and is responsible for logistics. Mechanics Gerrit Polsvoort (borther of Hans) and Johan Braakhekke accompany him in the truck. Hans helps in the bivouac as much as possible, but his main responsibilty is the truck and he has to be fit enough to drive it safely from bivouac to bivouac. It's the homebase of the team, without it we have a big issue.
Teammanager Henk Helleger and mechanic Marcel Bulten drive a Landcruiser. They try to get to starts and finishes whenever possible, to give a helping hand to the riders. Untill now it wasn't urgent, but better safe then sorry.
Today the engines of the bikes are replaced as preventive measure. Regulations allow for two new engines during the rally. The only bike that doesn't get a new engine is Tonny's, as his motor was replaced after it had bad fuel, contaminated with water. Last year the engines that had been replaced during the rally were checked for damage or exceptional wear. Those engines were like new. Nevertheless, we try to eliminate each risk.
This year we have two new mechanics, partly for a tragic reason. Johan ten Dam has passed away in may 2009. He was part of the team for two years, and we miss him. The other mechanic is still with us, but has joined the team as a rider. Gerben Vruggink participated in 2007, 2008 and 2009 as a mechanic. Gerrit Polsvoort and Johan Braakhekke have joined the team, with Johan working fulltime for HT Rally Raid.
Marcel Bulten has worked on the bikes since 2008. "Back then we built the biks in the evening, but currently Johan does most of the work. I've spend quite a lot of time with Honda bikes, working on the bike of Erwin Plekkenpol, a Dutch enduro rider who participated in the World Championship enduro. "On the restingday we replaced everything o the bikes that might wear, not just the engine. We also take time to check everything for tears or damage. Last week we had a lot of work. Tonny crashed the first day, Patrick had a big hit with a lot of damage, Mirjam twice and Gerben also managed to crash his bike. There are always people who come in for parts or advice, as most Honda riders use our Dakar kit.
This year is different, I was quite ill for two days. Also we have more difficulty reaching the stages. ASO has managed to prevent a lot more people from reaching the start and finish. As mechanics we work together as much as we can. More eyes working together helps to prevent mistakes. It is a way of working that benefits the team as a whole. with the new 450 regulations the chances for Honda are good. We hope to find new Dutch riders that can compete in the top, and we think there are some good candidates amoung the Trophy riders."
Johan Braakhekke is here for the first time. "We have enough work to do. Sleeping in the trucks is not easy making the work more difficult. I love the response from the people here, they are crazy about Dakar!. I have seen a lot of six-days, but this is different. If we can continue like this, I would be very happy. Some small changes have been made during the preparation for this rally. I participated in the trip to Tunesia and did some work for Quinn Cody during the Spanish Baja last summer. It is such a pity we could not finish the deal with Quinn, as he was short on budget. The guy can ride a bike so fast, without trashing it!
Gerrit Polsvoort is ten years jonger than Hans. He was asked to participate this summer. Gerrit is a long time mechanic, not just on bikes. "It goes like I thought it would. Hans and I have talked a lot about Dakar, and I spent two months in the workshop in Vorden. I learned all about the Honda's. They require a bit more work than the bikes I was used to, but I take my time. I don't mind long days, I want to be sure the work is done like it should before I sleep. Time for walking around: no way. It would be fun to see the bivouac today. If possible, I would like to participate in a truck myself.
Hans Polsvoort is driver of the GINAF and replacement for Henk Hellegers when he's away. He makes sure everyone has the tools and parts that are neccessary. "I've always been into trucks, and it is good fun to have three weeks of driving again. I think this Dakar is better than the last one, tougher as well. With all the riders still in the race we are quite busy. there is still a week left, but the team is doing fine. For us in the trucks the routes are better. Last year we had long and boring stretches, but this is ok. And with enough coffee I'll get through almost any day."
the special after the resting day is tough. For ASO it is easier to loose competitors here, it helps with the logistics. There are two specials in the Atacam desert left. The first one tomorrow, with a lot of fast tracks with stones. In the last part 83 kilometers with sand and dunes, getting tougher as the competitors get closer to Copiapo.
-source: team honda eu