Harry Hunt’s Dakar Rally diary – we're halfway there

Saturday, October 22nd, 2016 - autos, cars, motoring, news

Source : Harry Hunt’s Dakar Rally diary – we're halfway there

Mini ALL4 Racing We’re following British driver Harry Hunt on the Dakar Rally every day, along with the Mini All4 Racing driver relished the chance to take stock on the rest day


We’re following British driver – along with 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 will be trying something bigger for size: the epic 6000-mile Dakar Rally along with the Mini ALL4 Racing.

Sunday 10 January 2016

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

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

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

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

The plan for next week will be truly to carry on within the same way as we have up to today. We’ve got a Great rhythm along with 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 along with 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 along with be even more concentrated along with focussed than I have been up to today, as This kind of’s so easy to make a mistake here. We’ve worked truly hard to get This kind of far along with the last thing I want will be to undo all in 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 along with basically rebuild This kind of. They do an awesome job, so a massive thanks to them all. So I know the automobile will be in top condition: today This kind of’s just down to me along with Andy…

Friday 8 January 2016

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

I’m truly pleased, because the level of competition here will be immense along with we all know the difficulty of the rally: people don’t call This kind of ‘the toughest rally within the earth’ just for fun.

The biggest challenge for many people as we crossed into Bolivia was the altitude. This kind of year, we reached 4600 metres, which will be pretty high along with there were a few people taking oxygen to help breathe better.

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

along with in which’s actually the craziest thing of all. We’re not even at the halfway mark although This kind of 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 This kind of whole rally : the sheer scale of This kind of all. I’m so impressed by the way in which Mini along with the X Raid team which prepares my car approach things – dealing with the logistics of an event like This kind of one will be a challenge in itself.

Saturday’s stage will be the longest of the entire rally, so I’m truly looking forward to This kind of. Without a doubt, This kind of will 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 along with quad.

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

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

The only thing we need to be a bit careful of today will be spare tyres: because This kind of 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 truly. At This kind of point we want to be running within the top 20 along with learning as much as possible; in which’s the goal for my first Dakar.

along with obviously we need to finish. So we’re concentrating on in which rather than seeing who will be in front or behind us, although I’ve been told in which our pace will 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, along with 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 This kind of! along with we’re still keeping our place within the top 20. although yesterday’s stage was a truly tricky one. Again because of the weather, the stage was shorter than This kind of was meant to be, which chopped This kind of down to just under 0 miles in total.

When you go through villages along with different areas there are sometimes a few speed-limited sections on the stage, having 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 This kind of very hard to find a rhythm in our Mini All4 Racing.

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

Originally This kind of 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 by the rain yesterday.

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

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

So far, the actual event will be everything I thought This kind of might be along with more. What’s been absolutely brilliant will be having the possibility to meet the fans: they truly make the event.

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

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

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

One final thought: you’ve got to hand This kind of to Sébastien Loeb, haven’t you? To win your first proper Dakar stage will be 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 today 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, along with then cancelled all together.

by what I was told This kind of wasn’t so much in which the stage was impossible to drive; more in which the clouds along with storms meant the medical helicopter couldn’t fly. When This kind of’s like in which there’s no choice for the organisers truly: the only thing to do will be to not run the stage.

A pity, because I was looking forward to getting my teeth into This kind of, although in which’s just how This kind of will be. Still, we did a fair amount of driving along with 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 automobile will be always useful; even if This kind of’s just driving around. This kind of becomes more along with more your environment, so This kind of certainly wasn’t a wasted day.

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

With an early finish along with 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 will 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, although This kind of was definitely a Great 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 Great recommendation, hasn’t This kind of?

Sunday 3 January 2016

The first full stage was cancelled due to thunderstorms.

Saturday 2 January 2016

So after all the waiting along with 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 will be a bit like the superspecial stage on a rally, although This kind of’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 off in Paris, along with in which in 1987 Ari Vatanen managed to crash on This kind of, before the rally had even properly started off.

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

This kind of was actually quite nice for me to contain the prologue stage today though, because while a large part of you just wants to get on along with get stuck in, This kind of will be still my first Dakar, so having a taste of the competition before This kind of all gets truly serious will be quite a Great way in.

As we drove out of Buenos Aires, I was amazed by the crowds: everyone comes out to watch along with truly gets behind the event – which will be great to see. This kind of’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 truly started off for my co-driver Andy: he gets the road books for the following day by the organisers along with has to go through them. along with if you bear in mind in which This kind of’s a 0-mile stage tomorrow (which will be still actually the third-shortest one of the rally) you can imagine in which This kind of’s a lot of road book to get through. This kind of’s just as well in which he likes road books…

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

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

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

Luckily, my co-driver Andy Schulz takes care of most of in which, so I just have to follow his advice. along with given in which he’s got about 30 Dakars behind him today – 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, This kind of 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 truly all about getting back into the groove of driving the automobile again before the ceremonial start within the evening of 2 January in Buenos Aires.

The test went truly well, This kind of felt very natural to be back within the automobile again along with This kind of was Great 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 This kind of too much…

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