Pan Africa Rally 2019 : Day 4

445km special stage, 5 km liason

An early start for a 400km day!

The first special stage was fast with a lot of rolling dunes and salt pans full of fesh fesh. I had a really good stage passing many bikes and I was feeling really good.

We had a 30 minute service and refuel before the start of our second special stage, and again I felt really good.

At the 20km mark my Stella device lost power. The Stella is a GPS tracking device fitted by the organisers that also validates waypoints and lets you know when you are within a certain distance of the waypoint. If there is a mechanical or medical issue, it also assists with communication.

I lost a bit of confidence when this failed and slowed right down.

When I arrived at the refuel point for the next 30 minute break the officials confirmed it was dead, and that a few other riders had issues with theirs as well. They needed to go back to the Bivouac for a new one and refit it, so this gave me an extra 15 minutes over the allowed time.

The last special stage started off very rocky, but then we came to some 50-100 metre high dunes.

I was riding with Pablo, and as we were about 10 metres from the peak of the biggest dune I went to back off the throttle but it had jammed! This had happened a few times over the past few days and we thought it was just getting caught under the tank somewhere.

The other side of the dune was very steep and I landed about 20 metres down. The landing for me was soft, but for the bike it wasn’t so good.

The throttle assembly was all twisted and my aluminium rear subframe was broken. I rode down to the bottom of the dune with the throttle still jammed on and the bike revving as hard as it could.

I was able to find a small path about 1km long that took me out of the dunes and then came across a desert camp. I tried to fix the throttle so I could at least ride back but the rear of the bike was too badly damaged. I waited for assurance, and they transported me and the bike back to the bivouac.

The mechanics have repaired the throttle and re-routed the cables, but the rear subframe is badly bent and broken in a couple of places. The main bolt that holds the subframe to the frame is also snapped.

I’ll wait and see what magic the guys can do overnight, but the bike will need a new subframe and some other parts before the next race starts in Fes (Morocco) in 10 days.