Harry Hunt’s Dakar Rally diary – we made in home in tenth place

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016 - autos, cars, motoring, news

Source : Harry Hunt’s Dakar Rally diary – we made in home in tenth place

We’re following British driver Harry Hunt on the Dakar Rally every day, as well as the Mini All4 Racing driver has reached the end of his two-week adventure


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 earth Rally Championship, 27-year-old Harry can be trying something bigger for size: the epic 6000-mile Dakar Rally as well as the Mini ALL4 Racing.

Sunday 17 January 2016 Unbelievable. 10th overall. We actually did that will. To say that will that will’s beyond my dreams can be an understatement: that will’s actually even better than anything I thought before coming here. What I’d hoped for was top 20 if we kept our noses clean, however This particular can be such an unpredictable event that will you never know exactly how things will turn out. as well as that will’s not as if I came here using a shed load of experience either. however we did a top-10 result, after two weeks as well as 10,000 kilometres of driving. as well as someone said that will that will was the wettest Dakar in recent history. that will was hard, probably the hardest thing I’ve done. however incredibly that will was actually quite a straightforward Dakar for us too, if such a thing exists. Nothing truly went too badly wrong, we stuck to our pace, as well as as a result of all that will we managed to finish the Dakar within the top 10! that will’s a bit of a dream for me; in fact the whole thing still seems unreal – like that will’s happening to someone else. Driving to the finish, getting onto the ramp: the whole experience was actually quite emotional. There are crowds of people there cheering like mad as well as that will’s an unbelievable atmosphere. that will suddenly just hits you: the enormity of the whole thing. as well as we got to the end, in 10th place. The last stage went in a bit of a blur as well as then we had the road section to Rosario. There was a lot going through my head at that will time, however mainly happiness as well as relief! There are a lot of people to than, so apologies if I miss anyone out. Obviously there’s Andy, my co-driver. He’s just been a beacon of calm as well as wisdom throughout the whole event, as well as that will’s been fantastic to benefit coming from his experience. Then I’d like to thank Mini UK for putting their faith in me as a brand ambassador as well as lending me their support. Last however certainly not least, all my family as well as friends who have given me so much encouragement throughout the whole adventure. that will’s been a privilege to share This particular amazing experience with them. What’s next? I’m not sure yet however that will’s going to start using a couple of weeks off just to recuperate as well as come down. that will’s going to take me a few days to grasp that will. I’m going to stick around South America, because I’ve enjoyed seeing the countries as well as meeting all these amazing people. that will’s a fascinating, welcoming place. as well as that will’s always going to hold very special memories for me, coming from at This particular point. What an amazing day. Saturday 16 January 2016 doing sure that will was the final proper day of the Dakar as well as for the very first time we had an actual mechanical problem, which can be something of a rarity as our car has been amazingly reliable. Our power steering failed towards the end of the stage, which meant that will the biceps got a workout. We did around 80 miles with that will, however that will wasn’t too bad: that will’s like normal steering however much stiffer, so you truly have to put a lot of effort into that will. On a truly twisty stage that will would likely be a nuisance however that will wasn’t too bad within the end. that will’s at times like that will you feel quite grateful for all the hard work you put in at the gym: that will’s definitely paid off because physically I’ve not felt too bad at all throughout the event. as well as at This particular point I’m going to keep This particular level of training up throughout the year. Because of that will problem we dropped a bit of time today, however not a lot within the end. that will didn’t truly matter anyway because we’ve got a big gap behind us to 11th place. Tomorrow can be the final day of the rally as well as that will’s just 100 miles to the finish in Rosario. that will’s funny how 100 miles feels like absolutely nothing these days. however that will still forms a competitive part of the rally, so keeping total concentration can be an absolute must. You’re never going to win the rally on a stage like that will. however you can certainly lose that will.

Friday 15 January 2016

My co-driver Andy Schulz as well as I have had some truly not bad stages as well as I’m feeling very comfortable with the Mini ALL4 Racing at This particular point.

I was 13th fastest on the stage between La Rioja as well as San Juan, which was 267 miles long, however that will wasn’t actually one of my favourite stages.

There were a lot of rocks as well as riverbeds, as well as stuff that will wasn’t particularly technical: just long as well as lots of that will. Still, the whole point of the Dakar can be that will everything can be massively diverse.

that will’s incredible that will in just the last few days, for example, we’ve experienced temperatures that will have ranged coming from 47deg C to close to zero! I don’t think there’s any some other event within the earth where you get that will.

We’ve hung on to tenth place overall so far, which can be what we hoped to do. There’s a bit of a gap in front of us as well as behind us, so we need to try as well as manage everything at This particular point. The fact that will we’re here at all, running within the top ten of the Dakar, can be pretty amazing. that will’s the stuff that will dreams are made of: I still can’t actually believe that will that will’s happening to me.

Everyone within the team has been great. Nasser Al-Attiyah, who can be currently second within the standings as well as has won the Dakar twice, can be one of my team mates – that will’s pretty cool – as well as he’s given me plenty of advice. He’s a bit of an encyclopaedia when that will comes to desert driving.

that will’s also been great to spend a bit of time with Mikko Hirvonen. He’s completely new to the Dakar like me, however he’s been at the sharp end of the earth Rally Championship for many years: in fact, he came within one point of taking the earth rally title away coming from Sébastien Loeb not so long ago.

Mikko’s been amazing: he’s fourth at the moment, as well as he may even get a podium – you never know. that will would likely be awesome to have two Minis on the podium, however the Peugeots have been so quick This particular year, so hats off to them.

As for me, we’ve got one more long stage to go on Friday, then just a short 112-mile run to the finish ramp on Saturday. as well as I truly, truly want to make sure we’re on that will…

Thursday 14 January 2016

We rallied through the Fiambala dunes stage on Wednesday, as well as I can honestly say that will was probably the hardest rally stage I’ve completed in my life.

To give you an idea of just how tough that will was, Nasser Al-Attiyah rolled within a few kilometres as well as Carlos Sainz retired coming from the lead.

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

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

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

Judging that will balance – between speed as well as safety – can be the biggest challenge the Dakar presents you with. however we’ve already seen that will the Mini can be pretty strong. We saw Nani Roma on his side on the stage, so we stopped to help him get back on his wheels, as well as we also got a little bit lost looking for a waypoint as well as slightly.

We’re 10th overall at This particular point, which means that will these are probably going to be the longest three days of my life. Part of you thinks ‘wouldn’t that will be great if the rally stopped at This particular point?’ however to be honest I’m enjoying that will 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 that will the rally can be nearly over, as then you start to relax a bit. as well as that will’s the last thing I need right at This particular point. The stages may be hundreds of miles long, however you can’t afford to relax for a second on any of them.

Wednesday 13 January 2016

Over the past 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 that will wrong as well as you can get beached: that will’s even happened to people like Sébastien Loeb as well as Stéphane Peterhansel – as well as Stéphane has won that will 11 times. that will’s a truly complex art that will 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 – that will hasn’t happened to us yet. as well as I’ve got my co-driver Andy to thank for a lot of that will: he’s got so much experience that will he’s able to offer some truly useful advice. Most of that will 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 can be no fun at all in 47deg C heat.

Yes, I didn’t believe that will either when I first heard that will, however apparently that will’s what the temperature was on yesterday’s stage. I saw somewhere that will the hottest temperature ever recorded anywhere within the earth was 56.7deg C, so that will’s amazing to think that will we were driving in conditions that will were less than 10deg C coming from the record!

Despite that will, I didn’t feel especially hot within the vehicle – just deyhdrated! We carry about six litres of drink within the vehicle as well as I got through that will pretty quickly. Yesterday was probably the hardest stage I’ve ever driven in my life, however we got through that will as well as Andy told me that will had that will not been for the punctures, we would likely actually have been seventh fastest overall, which can be pretty amazing.

There are a few drivers who have had problems, so that will’s hard to tell where you are immediately after the stage, however we’ve moved up to 12th overall as well as that will would likely be absolutely amazing to think about a top 10 finish.

I’m not going to put pressure on myself by forcing that will, however so far the whole rally has gone beyond expectations. Massive thanks to Mini for giving me such an amazing car. however we’re a very long way coming from 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 that will’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.

that will’s gone truly well so far: we’re 13th overall behind Nani Roma – who has won the Dakar within 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 truly pleased with.

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

The rest day came at a not bad time, as This particular can be such a long rally. that will sounds obvious I know, however you truly do need the break to recharge a bit. The not bad news can be that will 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; that will’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 that will heat training, that will definitely would likely have been roasting hot every single day!

The plan for next week can be truly to carry on within the same way as we have up to at This particular point. We’ve got a not bad rhythm as well as 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 as well as open spaces, which means that will there’s more navigation involved as well as a risk of getting stuck within 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 that will’s so easy to make a mistake here. We’ve worked truly hard to get This particular far as well as the last thing I want can be to undo all that will not bad work.

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

Friday 8 January 2016

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

I’m truly pleased, because the level of competition here can be immense as well as we all know the difficulty of the rally: people don’t call that will ‘the toughest rally within the earth’ 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 can be 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 can be just what you needed after the marathon stage. I’ve been truly pleased to see that will I’ve not suffered too much physically, which can be always a bit of a concern when you go into a rally that will can be as demanding as This particular one. however so far, I’ve been feeling OK as we start coming up to the halfway point.

as well as that will’s actually the craziest thing of all. We’re not even at the halfway mark however that will 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.

that will’s the most epic thing about This particular whole rally : the sheer scale of that will all. I’m so impressed by the way that will 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 can be a challenge in itself.

Saturday’s stage can be the longest of the entire rally, so I’m truly looking forward to that will. Without a doubt, This particular can be 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.

that will was not bad to finally get going however 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 that will wasn’t a big drama at all: we changed the tyre truly quickly, as that will’s something we practise a lot, as well as then we were on our way again. The great thing about the Dakar Rally can be that will if you have a smaller problem like that will, that will doesn’t massively matter because the stages are so long. within the WRC, if you have a puncture, that will 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 can be 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 that will 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 truly. At This particular point we want to be running within the top 20 as well as learning as much as possible; that will’s the goal for my first Dakar.

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

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

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

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

In total, around 20% of the stage was speed-limited, so that will felt very stop-as well as-start. I thought that will might just have been me, however then Stephane Peterhansel said exactly the same thing after the stage – as well as he’s won the Dakar 11 times, doing sure that will’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, that will can be summed up in one word: wet. We had a lot of mud as well as a lot of rain, which made things truly difficult, however 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, that will just tipped that will down: I’ve hardly ever seen rain like that will. There were people wandering around up to their knees in water as well as streets that will just looked like rivers. The thing that will I’m learning about Dakar, can be that will everything can be huge. as well as that will 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 that will certainly didn’t disappoint.

Originally that will was going to be more than 300 miles of competitive stage, however that will was chopped down by 75 miles because a lot of the roads ere still damaged coming from the rain yesterday.

Actually that will wasn’t too bad: there was only one truly muddy place – where quite a few people got stuck – however the rest was just brilliant as well as truly enjoyable. We went at our pace as well as finished within the top 20, which can be just what we were after.

What I was truly pleased by was the fact that will we felt comfortable within the Mini ALL4 Racing: or as comfortable as you can be when that will’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 can be everything I thought that will would likely be as well as more. What’s been absolutely brilliant can be having the possibility to meet the fans: they truly 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 that will’s just great to see everybody enjoying themselves as well as the event so much. You truly get the impression that will that will’s more than just a race – that will’s all about the country as well as the people as well as experiencing something that will’s unique.

Although that will’s only been the first proper day, a few people have hit trouble: my Mini team-mate Nani Roma got stuck within the mud as well as by the time he’d got his car out, he was covered coming from head to foot in mud! that will 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 can be not something I’ve seen before.

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

One final thought: you’ve got to hand that will to Sébastien Loeb, haven’t you? To win your first proper Dakar stage can be quite something: I’m not sure anyone has ever done that will 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.

coming from what I was told that will wasn’t so much that will the stage was impossible to drive; more that will the clouds as well as storms meant the medical helicopter couldn’t fly. When that will’s like that will there’s no choice for the organisers truly: the only thing to do can be to not run the stage.

A pity, because I was looking forward to getting my teeth into that will, however that will’s just how that will can be. 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, doing sure that will gives you an idea of how much water was about.

Time within the vehicle can be always useful; even if that will’s just driving around. that will becomes more as well as more your environment, so that will certainly wasn’t a wasted day.

The bivouac overnight was at Villa Carlos Paz: a place I know quite well because that will’s the home of Rally Argentina on the earth Rally Championship, where I’ve competed before. So that will was not bad 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 can be 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, however that will was definitely a not bad protein hit that will’s going to give me plenty of energy over the next few days.

Just as we were leaving, another legend came in: Sébastien Loeb. doing sure that will’s got to be a not bad recommendation, hasn’t that will?

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 that will’s a warm-up for the main rally, although the overall times still count towards the final score. Not that will 6.8 miles make much difference in a total route that will’s about 6000 miles long!

I guess the prologue can be a bit like the superspecial stage on a rally, although that will’s not something that will’s been held on the Dakar recently. I was told that will they used to have a prologue stage all the time when the rally commenced in Paris, as well as that will in 1987 Ari Vatanen managed to crash on that will, before the rally had even properly commenced.

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

that will was actually quite nice for me to develop 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 can be still my first Dakar, so having a taste of the competition before that will all gets truly serious can be quite a not bad way in.

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

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

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

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

The bit that will people don’t truly see about the Dakar Rally can be all the logistics as well as administration that will goes on beforehand. There’s literally a ton of documentation as well as our team handbook can be 100 pages long.

Luckily, my co-driver Andy Schulz takes care of most of that will, so I just have to follow his advice. as well as given that will 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 – that will 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 that will occasion, we were the second-placed Dakar rookie after Mikko Hirvonen, whose reputation speaks for itself, doing sure that will was an encouraging result. More importantly, that will 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 truly all about getting back into the groove of driving the vehicle again before the ceremonial start within the evening of 2 January in Buenos Aires.

The test went truly well, that will felt very natural to be back within the vehicle again as well as that will was not bad to see that will 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 that will too much…

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Source: Harry Hunt’s Dakar Rally diary – we made in home in tenth place

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