OK, time to bump this thread up - fortunately I have a few juicy tit-bits, although there is a danger this is going to start sounding like a blog!
Right, busy week this week - paid my final payment to ASO (the Dakar organization for those unfamiliar) which is due on 1st November... (got to be early for something, right?!) - so that is a huge expenditure out of the way...
Now I just have to find the rest of the service fee for Desert Rose Racing, plus get all my consumables together - tyres, mousses, chain&sprockets, oil and filters... oh, and chain slippers, as I understand the WR can be hungry with those (although in Tunisia my original one was fine for the duration).
So I'm basically looking for a dealer/supplier who can provide the service consumables to top up what I have already - I have approached a couple of companies so far and am waiting for their decision - the shopping list is as follows:
4 x front tyres (Michelin Desert)
4 x rear tyres (Michelin Desert)
3 x front mousse (Michelin BIB)
3 x rear mousse (Michelin BIB)
2 x drive chain (DID 520VM 114 links)
2 x rear sprockets (Supersprox 48T)
2 x front sprockets (Renthal, 14T)
10 x oil filters
10/12 x litres of oil (10W40 - Putoline off-road 4 synthetic or similar)
4 x air filters (TwinAir)
3 x chain slippers (OEM or Polisport)
If anyone can help, or knows someone/a company who can help, please do get in touch and I can forward my sponsorship proposal (basically what I can offer in return) to those concerned.
I am also still looking for a key sponsor to help cover my service assistance costs - there are three packages available, for €10K, €5K and €2K.
There is also the possibility of 2 spare seats in a follow truck with UK rider Tamsin Jones and her sponsor from Dakar last year - at a cost of around €2,500 per person (which includes travel and camping for the duration, but you'll need to get yourself to and from Buenos Aires independently). Note: this is NOT a Bivouac pass, but they will be following the rally as spectators in a dedicated 4x4. Again, if you are interested, please get in touch via PM initially.
Right, some good news at least - I also picked up my new WR450F which Yamaha UK were very generous in helping out cost-wise - I got a cracking deal, cheaper than I could have bought a decent secondhand one for...
Although buying a complete spare bike may seem extravagant for a privateer on a limited budget, let me explain the thinking...
Having spoken to a number of past Dakar riders, the problem with buying spares 'you might need', even on a sale-or-return (SOR) basis, is that a) you never know what you might need, and typically it will be the one thing you didn't bother to get; and b) even if you do get everything on SOR, it is likely that the packaging will be damaged on your return from the Dakar (remember everything get's stuffed into a metal trunk for the duration), and indeed to save space, you often have to forfeit the oem packaging anyway.
This means that typically, on your return, you have a bunch of unused but unreturnable spares, that either kick around indefinitely, or you sell at a loss on ebay...
By buying a complete spare bike there are a number of benefits - firstly, you know everything works, because you can ride the bike before you strip it down... secondly, on you return, you can build the spare bike back up and sell it on, and only have to buy replacement parts for those you actually used... or in my case, this way I will hopefully still have a brand new 2010 model WR that I can transfer the rally kit onto, and essentially have a brand new race bike for next season - then either sell the original bike, or keep that one as my spare parts package for future events...
I still need to do the PDI prep (and derestrict it!), get it road-registered and get it run in (and first service/valves checked) as soon as possible...
Fortunately, this week I have at last been able to stand and walk around without my crutches, even if I still look a little ungainly! So fingers crossed by the weekend, I'll be fit enough and the bike will be ready to put some miles on - then it will be into the workshop asap to complete the strip down and package everything ready for shipping around the 20th November... yikes! - that's only three weeks away!
Once stripped, I will have a complete (and fully assembled) engine, so it's an easy swap if things are looking dodgy... I'll also have a replacement carb, all cables, ignition (CDI) unit, bar controls, pedals, calipers, hoses, discs, wiring loom and even the fork legs should there be space (although as Patsy suggested, if you've crashed hard enough to bend a fork, you're probably not in any shape to continue yourself!)
Now this might sound like overkill to some people, but the difference with Dakar is that you often don't have time to repair things, and you can't miss a day (and take a time penalty like you can in the FIM championship for example) - if you don't make your start time the next morning, you are out, and on a plane home...
Therefore, by having a direct replacement part available, the service crew can simply replace that part quickly, then spend the following day fixing your original broken part (if that is possible) so you still have a spare, while you continue racing... this is the main reason why the Dakar is so expensive and daunting compared to any other rally...
In the meantime, I have also been chasing sponsors and those who [initially] offered to help, and hope to have some more good news shortly regarding final bike prep and riding gear etc. and I even found time to write my first monthly column for TBM magazine too - look out for it the first week of next month!
I'm also hoping the bike will be graphic'd up and pretty much ready to go by next weekend, and should have some nice photos by then too!
So don't go changing that channel now!