Nadav and I are back in the saddle, just competed the Central European Rally that took place last week in Hungary and Romania. This was a make-up event that the Dakar organizers put together after the 2008 Lisbon-Dakar race was canceled due to terrorism threats.
While it wasn’t the Dakar in terms of terrain, landscapes, and length, it was a great event that attracted most of the top professional teams and more than half of the competitors who registered for the Lisbon-Dakar race. Some 130 bikes and quads, 92 cars, and 40 trucks started the race on Sunday in Budapest, Hungary. Relatively speaking it was not a long event (2,600 km overall and only 1,100 km of off-road sections), but it was quite brutal and a lot of competitors, including some of the top drivers, had to drop out. Within the car category only 55 cars got the the finish line at Lake Balaton, Hungary, and much to our surprise Nadav and I were among them! So while we were not exactly a direct threat to Carlos Sainz who won the race (we finished 53 out of 55 cars), still we were ahead of almost 40 other competitors who didn’t finish, so it felt GREAT!
Overall the Desert Warriors did really well in this rally. Of the 8 that started the race, one retired the first day with a fully functioning car, and the other 7 managed to complete the race. Not that the vehicles didn’t have problems: in our team we had to replace a broken axle, broken differential shaft, a full set of shock absorbers, clutch bearing, steering wheel pump and brakes just to name a few. But because the car is designed for simple repair and maintenance, our mechanics (who are the real heroes behind this sport ) were able to get each and every Desert Warrior back into service within hours or even minutes and allowed us drivers to complete the race despite all the abuse and punishment we inflicted upon the cars.
Over the next few days I will try to tell the story of our race by the different days. But just to give you a taste, see how our 2nd day ended (no, it is not Photoshop :)).