Saudi Baja 2023: Administration & Scrutineering

1/2/2023 10:13pm, Saudi Arabia

I had another good night’s sleep and was up at 4.30am. That’s the usual time I get to work so my body must be in sync with the time over here now.

Based on my previous experience on big events, admin and scrutineering can be a very long and stressful day. Each competitor is given a certain time slot that you have to stick to and both processes are lengthy and detailed.

Thankfully today everything went smoothly, but the bike check was more thorough than at Dakar.

It was good to meet most of the other bike competitors in the bivouac today.

Although I have a few big world class races behind me now and a bit of experience, the Baja Rally World Cup is quite a bit different to the much longer races I usually do. With only 3 days racing its full gas every day and you cannot afford to make any mistakes. 

One thing that will be similar is the 5-6am starts and riding the first 2 hours in darkness and 3 degree temperatures. It will be freezing cold in the mornings.

I’ve been trying to learn a bit of Spanish over the past 5 years as that is what my Nomadas Coca-Cola team speak, but I also need to brush up on my Arabic! These guys seem to get really wound up just in general conversation and you’re half expecting a fight to break out but that’s just the way these guys operate.

This is another culture that I think we really misunderstand too. Every Arab that I have come across in the past 3 years will go out of their way to do what ever they can for you. 

The press conference and competitors briefing was this evening. It was a big deal and really made me realise how big the FIM World Cup is and what a privilege it is to be here. 

Racing begins tomorrow with the Prologue. It’s only a very short competitive stage and your time is multiplied by a factor of 8 to determine your starting order for stage 1. The fastest 10 riders will then get to choose their starting position within the top 10.

I won’t get a chance to ride or test my Husqvarna 450 Rally before the Prologue so It will be nice and slow for me. With the best Baja riders in the world here as well as past world champions, I will be happy just to get through the Prologue safely and without any mistakes. 

I have a long year ahead, so my goal for the first round is to have some fun, stay safe and hopefully get some world championship points.