Harry Hunt’s Dakar Rally diary – steady approach is actually paying off

Monday, September 26th, 2016 - autos, cars, motoring, news

Source : Harry Hunt’s Dakar Rally diary – steady approach is actually paying off

Mini ALL4 Racing We’re following British driver Harry Hunt on the Dakar Rally every day, as well as the Mini All4 Racing driver is actually on course for a top ten result


We’re following British driver – as well as Mini UK brand ambassador – Harry Hunt on the Dakar Rally every day. Having made his mark on the planet Rally Championship, 27-year-old Harry is actually trying something bigger for size: the epic 6000-mile Dakar Rally as well as the Mini ALL4 Racing.

Wednesday 13 January 2016 Over the last couple of days we’ve been trying to master the sand dunes, which are always the most difficult part of cross country rallying. Basically, you can’t cross them too quickly or too slowly. as well as you’ve also got to cross them at exactly the right angle. Get the idea wrong as well as you can get beached: of which’s even happened to people like Sébastien Loeb as well as Stéphane Peterhansel – as well as Stéphane has won the idea 11 times. the idea’s a definitely complex art of which relies on plenty of skill as well as experience, as well as a bit of luck. Touch wood, cross fingers – whatever superstition takes your fancy – the idea hasn’t happened to us yet. as well as I’ve got my co-driver Andy to thank for a lot of of which: he’s got so much experience of which he’s able to offer some definitely useful advice. Most of the idea consists of the words ‘slow down’ – delivered in increasing levels of volume, depending on how close to the limit he thinks we are!  While we’ve not got stuck, what we’ve had to cope with quite a lot of are punctures. We had two of them yesterday – as well as getting out to change the wheel is actually no fun at all in 47-degree Centigrade heat. Yes, I didn’t believe of which either when I first heard, nevertheless apparently of which’s what the temperature was on yesterday’s stage. I saw somewhere of which the hottest temperature ever recorded anywhere inside the planet was 56.7 degrees, so the idea’s amazing to think of which we were driving in conditions of which were less than 10 degrees away through the record! Despite of which, I didn’t feel especially hot inside the automobile – just deyhdrated! We carry about six litres of drink inside the automobile as well as I got through of which pretty quickly. Yesterday was probably the hardest stage I’ve ever driven in my life, nevertheless we got through the idea as well as Andy told me of which had the idea not been for the punctures, we might actually have been seventh-fastest overall, which is actually pretty amazing. There are a few drivers who have had problems, so the idea’s hard to tell where you are immediately after the stage, nevertheless we’ve moved up to 12th overall as well as the idea might be absolutely amazing to think about a top 10 finish. I’m not going to put pressure on myself by forcing the idea, nevertheless so far the whole rally has gone beyond expectations. Massive thanks to Mini for giving me such an amazing car. nevertheless we’re a very long way through completing the job yet. Things can go wrong in just a fraction of a second so we have just one motto: stay concentrated, stay focused…

Sunday 10 January 2016

We’ve just had the rest day in Salta, Argentina, as well as of which’s given me a chance to stop as well as draw breath at the end of what’s probably been the most intense week of my life.

the idea’s gone definitely well so far: we’re 13th overall behind Nani Roma – who has won the Dakar inside the past – as well as we’ve even managed to set an 11th-fastest stage time: which at This particular level, against these sorts of competitors, I’m definitely pleased with.

We’ve been going for a week at This particular point which has a week still to go, nevertheless if you asked me I’d say of which we’ve been going for weeks as well as weeks already – or at least of which’s how the idea feels. With the help of my co-driver Andy we’ve kept up a pace of which I feel comfortable with, as well as our Mini All4 Racing has been rock solid reliable throughout the whole thing. Which is actually pretty incredible, as we’ve thrown a fair amount of punishment at the idea!

The rest day came at a Great time, as This particular is actually such a long rally. of which sounds obvious I know, nevertheless you definitely do need the break to recharge a bit. The Great news is actually of which the physical preparation I did before coming here seems to have worked well because I’m not struggling physically at all.

In fact, I probably didn’t have to do as much heat training as I did, as the temperatures here haven’t been outrageous; the idea’s actually been a bit cooler than I expected. Still, let’s see what next week brings as well as you can always guarantee one thing: if I hadn’t done all of which heat training, the idea definitely might have been roasting hot every single day!

The plan for next week is actually definitely to carry on inside the same way as we have up to at This particular point. We’ve got a Great rhythm as well as there’s no need to do anything different. The character of the rally alterations a bit over the next few days: we get more desert dunes as well as open spaces, which means of which there’s more navigation involved as well as a risk of getting stuck inside the sand.

So I’m going to try as well as be even more concentrated as well as focussed than I have been up to at This particular point, as the idea’s so easy to make a mistake here. We’ve worked definitely hard to get This particular far as well as the last thing I want is actually to undo all of which Great work.

After the rest day, we basically set off in what’s almost a brand brand new car: the mechanics strip everything down as well as basically rebuild the idea. They do an awesome job, so a massive thanks to them all. So I know the automobile will be in top condition: at This particular point the idea’s just down to me as well as Andy…

Friday 8 January 2016

Thursday’s stage went definitely well: we were 12th overall, which was a fantastic result of which moved us into the top 15!

I’m definitely pleased, because the level of competition here is actually immense as well as we all know the difficulty of the rally: people don’t call the idea ‘the toughest rally inside the planet’ just for fun.

The biggest challenge for many people as we crossed into Bolivia was the altitude. This particular year, we reached 4600 metres, which is actually pretty high as well as there were a few people taking oxygen to help breathe better.

Luckily I felt fine: those altitude sickness pills obviously worked! as well as my Mini All4 Racing was bullet-proof as well, which is actually just what you needed after the marathon stage. I’ve been definitely pleased to see of which I’ve not suffered too much physically, which is actually always a bit of a concern when you go into a rally of which is actually as demanding as This particular one. nevertheless so far, I’ve been feeling OK as we start coming up to the halfway point.

as well as of which’s actually the craziest thing of all. We’re not even at the halfway mark nevertheless the idea already feels like we’ve been driving for a very long time: we’re probably at the point where we’ve covered about the equivalent of half of a World Rally Championship season.

of which’s the most epic thing about This particular whole rally : the sheer scale of the idea all. I’m so impressed by the way of which Mini as well as the X Raid team which prepares my car approach things – dealing with the logistics of an event like This particular one is actually a challenge in itself.

Saturday’s stage is actually the longest of the entire rally, so I’m definitely looking forward to the idea. Without a doubt, This particular is actually the biggest adventure of my life so far. There aren’t many motorsport events you can do where you have to look out for passing llamas…

Thursday 7 January 2016

So Wednesday actually turned out to be the first day when a complete full stage was run for every category: bike, car, truck as well as quad.

the idea was Great to finally get going nevertheless unfortunately we picked up a puncture in our Mini All4 Racing: there were quite a few sharp rocks about as well as we weren’t the only ones – Carlos Sainz had a puncture too, right at the start of the stage.

Actually the idea wasn’t a big drama at all: we changed the tyre definitely quickly, as the idea’s something we practise a lot, as well as then we were on our way again. The great thing about the Dakar Rally is actually of which if you have a little problem like of which, the idea doesn’t massively matter because the stages are so long. inside the WRC, if you have a puncture, the idea can be game over in terms of a meaningful result.

The only thing we need to be a bit careful of at This particular point is actually spare tyres: because This particular was the first part of the marathon stage – where the cars go straight into parc ferme without service – we can’t take on any more spare tyres until we reach the bivouac at Uyuni – which obviously means of which we have to be a bit careful not to pick up any more punctures, otherwise we’ll have a problem.

We’re still around 17th or so – you don’t actually look at the overall results so much here: just a window of performance definitely. At This particular point we want to be running inside the top 20 as well as learning as much as possible; of which’s the goal for my first Dakar.

as well as obviously we need to finish. So we’re concentrating on of which rather than seeing who is actually in front or behind us, although I’ve been told of which our pace is actually pretty encouraging.

The stage was definitely quick: some massive flat-out sections. You definitely notice the effect of the altitude on the engine though, as well as of which’s going to become even more pronounced tomorrow as we climb to more than 4000 metres.

The event doctors give you some pills of which are meant to combat altitude sickness, so I’ll soon find out if they work or not!

Wednesday 6 January 2016

Well, I’m still loving the idea! as well as we’re still keeping our place inside the top 20. nevertheless yesterday’s stage was a definitely tricky one. Again because of the weather, the stage was shorter than the idea was meant to be, which chopped the idea down to just under 0 miles in total.

When you go through villages as well as additional areas there are sometimes a few speed-limited sections on the stage, which has a maximum speed in place. nevertheless because Tuesday’s stage was compacted, there were actually quite a few of those sections – every three miles or so – which made the idea very hard to find a rhythm in our Mini All4 Racing.

In total, around 20% of the stage was speed-limited, so the idea felt very stop-as well as-start. I thought of which might just have been me, nevertheless then Stephane Peterhansel said exactly the same thing after the stage – as well as he’s won the Dakar 11 times, in order of which’s quite reassuring!

In any case, I’m here to learn so you just have to take the conditions as you find them. as well as on the Dakar This particular year, of which can be summed up in one word: wet. We had a lot of mud as well as a lot of rain, which made things definitely difficult, nevertheless I think the worst part of the rain actually came when we arrived back inside the bivouac at Jujuy, in northern Argentina.

As we were driving back to the hotel inside the evening after the team briefing, the idea just tipped the idea down: I’ve hardly ever seen rain like the idea. There were people wandering around up to their knees in water as well as streets of which just looked like rivers. The thing of which I’m learning about Dakar, is actually of which everything is actually huge. as well as of which certainly applies to the rainstorms as well.

Tuesday 5 January 2016

At last! Yesterday brought our first full day of proper Dakar action – as well as the idea certainly didn’t disappoint.

Originally the idea was going to be more than 300 miles of competitive stage, nevertheless of which was chopped down by 75 miles because a lot of the roads ere still damaged through the rain yesterday.

Actually the idea wasn’t too bad: there was only one definitely muddy place – where quite a few people got stuck – nevertheless the rest was just brilliant as well as definitely enjoyable. We went at our pace as well as finished inside the top 20, which is actually just what we were after.

What I was definitely pleased by was the fact of which we felt comfortable inside the Mini ALL4 Racing: or as comfortable as you can be when the idea’s about 50 degrees Centigrade or more inside! We took no real risks at all as well as we got the job done.

So far, the actual event is actually everything I thought the idea might be as well as more. What’s been absolutely brilliant is actually having the possibility to meet the fans: they definitely make the event.

We stopped at a service station as well as straight away we had loads of people coming up to us: I did loads of interviews as well as photos as well as the idea’s just great to see everybody enjoying themselves as well as the event so much. You definitely get the impression of which the idea’s more than just a race – the idea’s all about the country as well as the people as well as experiencing something of which’s unique.

Although the idea’s only been the first proper day, a few people have hit trouble: my Mini team-mate Nani Roma got stuck inside the mud as well as by the time he’d got his car out, he was covered through head to foot in mud! the idea was like he’d been mud-wrestling or gone on an exotic beauty treatment or something.When I got back to service they were jet-washing his seat, which is actually not something I’ve seen before.

Still, there’s a very long way to go, which is actually what I need to keep on telling myself. My co-driver Andy has been brilliant: all of which experience definitely shows as well as he’s helping me to pace myself.

One final thought: you’ve got to hand the idea to Sébastien Loeb, haven’t you? To win your first proper Dakar stage is actually quite something: I’m not sure anyone has ever done of which before.

You can see why he’s had so much success at so many things throughout his career. Onwards at This particular point to Jujuy, close to the Bolivian border, where we’re going to try to keep exactly the same sort of pace as we had yesterday.

Monday 4 January 2016

I didn’t get the chance to write much yesterday because not a huge amount happened: the first stage was at first delayed, as well as then cancelled all together.

through what I was told the idea wasn’t so much of which the stage was impossible to drive; more of which the clouds as well as storms meant the medical helicopter couldn’t fly. When the idea’s like of which there’s no choice for the organisers definitely: the only thing to do is actually to not run the stage.

A pity, because I was looking forward to getting my teeth into the idea, nevertheless of which’s just how the idea is actually. Still, we did a fair amount of driving as well as I could actually feel my Mini ALL4 Racing start to aquaplane even on the road section in some places, in order of which gives you an idea of how much water was about.

Time inside the automobile is actually always useful; even if the idea’s just driving around. the idea becomes more as well as more your environment, so the idea certainly wasn’t a wasted day.

The bivouac overnight was at Villa Carlos Paz: a place I know quite well because the idea’s the home of Rally Argentina on the planet Rally Championship, where I’ve competed before. So the idea was Great to be back there, even though the weather was pretty grim!

With an early finish as well as not too much to do at service, there was time for a rare treat: I managed to get out to dinner at La Volanta, which is actually a bit of a legendary steakhouse in rallying circles, right inside the middle of Villa Carlos Paz.

There are photos of all the greats on the walls: Colin McRae, Carlos Sainz: you name them: they are there on the wall somewhere. The steak was pretty legendary too: I obviously have to be a bit careful about what I eat, nevertheless the idea was definitely a Great protein hit of which’s going to give me plenty of energy over the next few days.

Just as we were leaving, another legend came in: Sébastien Loeb. in order of which’s got to be a Great recommendation, hasn’t the idea?

Sunday 3 January 2016

The first full stage was cancelled due to thunderstorms.

Saturday 2 January 2016

So after all the waiting as well as anticipation, we’re finally off! Or sort of, anyway. Today’s stage was the prologue: just a short 6.8-mile stage of which’s a warm-up for the main rally, although the overall times still count towards the final score. Not of which 6.8 miles make much difference in a total route of which’s about 6000 miles long!

I guess the prologue is actually a bit like the superspecial stage on a rally, although the idea’s not something of which’s been held on the Dakar recently. I was told of which they used to have a prologue stage all the time when the rally started out in Paris, as well as of which in 1987 Ari Vatanen managed to crash on the idea, before the rally had even properly started out.

So there’s a cautionary tale! inside the end, we just took the idea nice as well as steadily, finishing inside the top 20, which is actually sort of where we wanted to be: the idea doesn’t definitely matter. Then the idea was onto a 93-mile road section to the overnight bivouac in Rosario, which is actually northwest of Buenos Aires. By Dakar standards, of which’s definitely not much driving at all.

the idea was actually quite nice for me to possess the prologue stage today though, because while a large part of you just wants to get on as well as get stuck in, This particular is actually still my first Dakar, so having a taste of the competition before the idea all gets definitely serious is actually quite a Great way in.

As we drove out of Buenos Aires, I was amazed by the crowds: everyone comes out to watch as well as definitely gets behind the event – which is actually great to see. the idea’s feels like a proper adventure: you’re very aware of which you’re doing something quite special.

As soon as we got to the bivouac, the hard work definitely started out for my co-driver Andy: he gets the road books for the following day through the organisers as well as has to go through them. as well as if you bear in mind of which the idea’s a 0-mile stage tomorrow (which is actually still actually the third-shortest one of the rally) you can imagine of which the idea’s a lot of road book to get through. the idea’s just as well of which he likes road books…

For me, I’m still just taking the idea all in at the moment. the idea’s amazing to be here, representing Mini UK, nevertheless the idea’s also a bit surreal. As the days go by, I’m sure everything will start to feel a bit more normal.

Follow Harry on Twitter: @harryhuntdakar

Friday 1 January 2016

the idea’s only when you actually get to Buenos Aires in Argentina of which the nerves kick in, nevertheless the idea’s a Great excitement: the feeling of which you just want to get on with the idea as well as start driving rather than waiting around.

The bit of which people don’t definitely see about the Dakar Rally is actually all the logistics as well as administration of which goes on beforehand. There’s literally a ton of documentation as well as our team handbook is actually 100 pages long.

Luckily, my co-driver Andy Schulz takes care of most of of which, so I just have to follow his advice. as well as given of which he’s got about 30 Dakars behind him at This particular point – he’s actually one of the most experienced co-drivers on the whole event – of which advice tends to be spot on.

We completed a short test around 30 miles outside of Buenos Aires, which was the first opportunity I had to drive the Mini since the Rallye du Maroc in October. On of which occasion, we were the second-placed Dakar rookie after Mikko Hirvonen, whose reputation speaks for itself, in order of which was an encouraging result. More importantly, the idea gave us a Great idea of the pace we needed to drive at for the actual event.

We completed around 20 miles at the test yesterday, which was definitely all about getting back into the groove of driving the automobile again before the ceremonial start inside the evening of 2 January in Buenos Aires.

The test went definitely well, the idea felt very natural to be back inside the automobile again as well as the idea was Great to see of which the results of all the fitness training I’ve done over the last few months are paying off. I even spent a lot of time in a heat chamber, so although the temperature has reached up to 38 degrees centigrade in Buenos Aires recently, I’m hoping not to notice the idea too much…

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Source: Harry Hunt’s Dakar Rally diary – steady approach is actually paying off

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