This was the longest day of the rally, 580 km. After a long liaison we arrive earlier than expected to the start at Dabas, so we have a chance to talk to the top drivers who just start to assemble there.
Milly, Beady and Nadav chat with Giniel De Villiers, a top VW driver from South Africa who is currently at 2nd place and has a good chance to win. De Villiers went on to win the first special of Day 4. See him flying on the course (#203) a few minutes after we talked, and then check out the video at the end of this entry, to see what happened to him the next day…
De Villiers chats with Nasser Al Attiyah (#205), a really nice fellow and the top BMW driver from Qatar, currently ranked #4. Al Attiyah will also have a good day, he will win the second special of the day.
Luc Alphand (above, #202) is one of the top Mitsubishi drivers. He will finish Day 4 ranked #5 overall. Here, he sticks a snail that he found on the ground to Nasser Al Attiyah’s windscreen… joke not withstanding, Al Attiyah did better than Alphand that day 🙂
Robby Gordon is yet to win a Dakar, and so far is doing well but not great in this race (will finished the day ranked #4), but he is by far the most popular driver and draws the most attention. The “Hummer” he drives has huge vertical travel, Robby gets a lot of “air” and the crowed just loves that. As I mentioned in a prior entry, we owe a lot to Robby’s race support truck team who towed us out of Day 2 special into camp.
While the top drivers get the most attention, to me the real heroes of the rally are definitely the mechanics. Often times they are volunteers who have to pay their own airfare just to get to the event, they work very late into the night/early morning to put the cars, that the drivers absolutely abuse, back in top shape and in time for the start the next day. Then they drive all day to get to the next camp, immediately start working on the cars, and seem to never get any sleep.
Lubo “Turbo” (left) is with Rally Raid UK and works mostly on our car; Turbo came from neighboring Slovenia and happens to speak Hungarian, a great help in this race. To his right is Pete who works on Paul Green’s car, all night and all day, it seems.
Henky joins Rally Raid UK from Amsterdam. In “real life” he is a mechanic for Ford in the Netherlands. He worked on the Desert Warrior in Dakar and other races. Henky works mostly on our car. Without Henky and Turbo’s effort there is no way we could have finished this race. Thanks a lot, guys!!!
As promised, here is a video from Day 5. Watch (1:25 into the segment) what happens to Giniel De Villiers who until that point was ranked #3 in the race, just 2:56 minutes behind the leader: