Harry Hunt’s Dakar Rally diary – the toughest test yet

Sunday, September 25th, 2016 - autos, cars, motoring, news

Source : Harry Hunt’s Dakar Rally diary – the toughest test yet

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


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

Thursday 14 January 2016

We rallied through the Fiambala dunes stage on Wednesday, in addition to I can honestly say in which was probably the hardest rally stage I’ve completed in my life.

To give you an idea of just how tough in which was, Nasser Al-Attiyah rolled within all 5 kilometres in addition to Carlos Sainz retired via the lead.

in which wasn’t just the driving in which was tricky; in which was the navigation as well. Finding the waypoints was a massively tough job in addition to in which stage was simply everything in which a Dakar stage should be: hugely demanding – physically, mentally in addition to mechanically.

Although the stage was utter chaos, we managed to stay genuinely focused in addition to set eighth-fastest stage time, which meant in which we were actually the second-fastest Mini through the stage, after Mikko Hirvonen. I’m so pleased with in which, as I think in which was our best performance on what was certainly the toughest stage of the rally. Beyond tricky, in fact.

in which just all came together though, in addition to as usual a massive thanks to my co-driver Andy, whose wisdom in addition to experience genuinely came into its own on in which stage. You pick your way through the obstacles in addition to you can’t be too hard on the auto, as in which still has three days to go.

Judging in which balance – between speed in addition to safety – is actually the biggest challenge the Dakar presents you with. although we’ve already seen in which the Mini is actually pretty strong. We saw Nani Roma on his side on the stage, so we stopped to help him get back on his wheels, in addition to we also got a little bit lost looking for a waypoint in addition to slightly.

We’re 10th overall currently, which means in which these are probably going to be the longest three days of my life. Part of you thinks ‘wouldn’t in which be great if the rally stopped currently?’ although to be honest I’m enjoying in which too much to want to stop.

At the same time, I’ve got to stay concentrated. You can’t even begin to get into the mentality of thinking in which the rally is actually nearly over, as then you start to relax a bit. in addition to in which’s the last thing I need right currently. The stages may be hundreds of miles long, although you can’t afford to relax for a second on any of them.

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. in addition to you’ve also got to cross them at exactly the right angle. Get in which wrong in addition to you can get beached: in which’s even happened to people like Sébastien Loeb in addition to Stéphane Peterhansel – in addition to Stéphane has won in which 11 times. in which’s a genuinely complex art in which relies on plenty of skill in addition to experience, as well as a bit of luck.

Touch wood, cross fingers – whatever superstition takes your fancy – in which hasn’t happened to us yet. in addition to I’ve got my co-driver Andy to thank for a lot of in which: he’s got so much experience in which he’s able to offer some genuinely useful advice. Most of in which 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 – in addition to getting out to change the wheel is actually no fun at all in 47-degree Centigrade heat.

Yes, I didn’t believe in which either when I first heard, although apparently in which’s what the temperature was on yesterday’s stage. I saw somewhere in which the hottest temperature ever recorded anywhere within the earth was 56.7 degrees, so in which’s amazing to think in which we were driving in conditions in which were less than 10 degrees away via the record!

Despite in which, I didn’t feel especially hot within the auto – just deyhdrated! We carry about six litres of drink within the auto in addition to I got through in which pretty quickly. Yesterday was probably the hardest stage I’ve ever driven in my life, although we got through in which in addition to Andy told me in which had in which not been for the punctures, we could actually have been seventh-fastest overall, which is actually pretty amazing.

There are a few drivers who have had problems, so in which’s hard to tell where you are immediately after the stage, although we’ve moved up to 12th overall in addition to in which could be absolutely amazing to think about a top ten finish.

I’m not going to put pressure on myself by forcing in which, although so far the whole rally has gone beyond expectations. Massive thanks to Mini for giving me such an amazing car. although we’re a very long way via 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, in addition to in which’s given me a chance to stop in addition to draw breath at the end of what’s probably been the most intense week of my life.

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

We’ve been going for a week currently which has a week still to go, although if you asked me I’d say in which we’ve been going for weeks in addition to weeks already – or at least in which’s how in which feels. With the help of my co-driver Andy we’ve kept up a pace in which I feel comfortable with, in addition to 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 in which!

The rest day came at a not bad time, as in which is actually such a long rally. in which sounds obvious I know, although you genuinely do need the break to recharge a bit. The not bad news is actually in 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; in which’s actually been a bit cooler than I expected. Still, let’s see what next week brings in addition to you can always guarantee one thing: if I hadn’t done all in which heat training, in which definitely could have been roasting hot every single day!

The plan for next week is actually genuinely to carry on within the same way as we have up to currently. We’ve got a not bad rhythm in addition to there’s no need to do anything different. The character of the rally adjustments a bit over the next few days: we get more desert dunes in addition to open spaces, which means in which there’s more navigation involved as well as a risk of getting stuck within the sand.

So I’m going to try in addition to be even more concentrated in addition to focussed than I have been up to currently, as in which’s so easy to make a mistake here. We’ve worked genuinely hard to get in which far in addition to the last thing I want is actually to undo all in which not bad work.

After the rest day, we basically set off in what’s almost a brand fresh car: the mechanics strip everything down in addition to basically rebuild in which. They do an awesome job, so a massive thanks to them all. So I know the auto will be in top condition: currently in which’s just down to me in addition to Andy…

Friday 8 January 2016

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

I’m genuinely pleased, because the level of competition here is actually immense in addition to we all know the difficulty of the rally: people don’t call in which ‘the toughest rally within the earth’ just for fun.

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

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

in addition to in which’s actually the craziest thing of all. We’re not even at the halfway mark although in which 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.

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

Saturday’s stage is actually the longest of the entire rally, so I’m genuinely looking forward to in which. Without a doubt, in which 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 in addition to quad.

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

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

The only thing we need to be a bit careful of currently is actually spare tyres: because in which 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 in 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 genuinely. At in which point we want to be running within the top 20 in addition to learning as much as possible; in which’s the goal for my first Dakar.

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

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

The event doctors give you some pills in 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 in which! in addition to we’re still keeping our place within the top 20. although yesterday’s stage was a genuinely tricky one. Again because of the weather, the stage was shorter than in which was meant to be, which chopped in which down to just under 0 miles in total.

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 5 January 2016

At last! Yesterday brought our first full day of proper Dakar action – in addition to in which certainly didn’t disappoint.

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

Actually in which wasn’t too bad: there was only one genuinely muddy place – where quite a few people got stuck – although the rest was just brilliant in addition to genuinely enjoyable. We went at our pace in addition to finished within the top 20, which is actually just what we were after.

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

So far, the actual event is actually everything I thought in which could be in addition to more. What’s been absolutely brilliant is actually having the possibility to meet the fans: they genuinely make the event.

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

Although in which’s only been the first proper day, a few people have hit trouble: my Mini team-mate Nani Roma got stuck within the mud in addition to by the time he’d got his car out, he was covered via head to foot in mud! in which 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 in which experience genuinely shows in addition to he’s helping me to pace myself.

One final thought: you’ve got to hand in which 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 in which before.

You can see why he’s had so much success at so many things throughout his career. Onwards currently 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, in addition to then cancelled all together.

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

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

Time within the auto is actually always useful; even if in which’s just driving around. in which becomes more in addition to more your environment, so in which certainly wasn’t a wasted day.

The bivouac overnight was at Villa Carlos Paz: a place I know quite well because in which’s the home of Rally Argentina on the earth Rally Championship, where I’ve competed before. So in which was not bad to be back there, even though the weather was pretty grim!

With an early finish in addition to 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 within 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, although in which was definitely a not bad protein hit in 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 in which’s got to be a not bad recommendation, hasn’t in which?

Sunday 3 January 2016

The first full stage was cancelled due to thunderstorms.

Saturday 2 January 2016

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

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

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

in which was actually quite nice for me to hold the prologue stage today though, because while a large part of you just wants to get on in addition to get stuck in, in which is actually still my first Dakar, so having a taste of the competition before in which all gets genuinely serious is actually quite a not bad way in.

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

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

For me, I’m still just taking in which all in at the moment. in which’s amazing to be here, representing Mini UK, although in which’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

in which’s only when you actually get to Buenos Aires in Argentina in which the nerves kick in, although in which’s a not bad excitement: the feeling in which you just want to get on with in which in addition to start driving rather than waiting around.

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

Luckily, my co-driver Andy Schulz takes care of most of in which, so I just have to follow his advice. in addition to given in which he’s got about 30 Dakars behind him currently – he’s actually one of the most experienced co-drivers on the whole event – in 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 in which occasion, we were the second-placed Dakar rookie after Mikko Hirvonen, whose reputation speaks for itself, in order in which was an encouraging result. More importantly, in which gave us a not bad idea of the pace we needed to drive at for the actual event.

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

The test went genuinely well, in which felt very natural to be back within the auto again in addition to in which was not bad to see in 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 in which too much…

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Source: Harry Hunt’s Dakar Rally diary – the toughest test yet

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