Day 1 (yesterday) was tough, even for the more seasoned competitors and Tuareg Rally regulars like Wesley Beane (Beaney) #25:
Beaney was going really well on his big KTM 690 (with a 690RR fairing mated to Rally Raid Evo2 tanks) - finishing the first Profi lap in the top ten, and was running as high as third overall before the last checkpoint, when an over-the-bars error cost him more than an hour trying to repair broken cables and wiring... He still finished in plenty of time, but with hopes of an early lead dashed.
Similarly Torque Racing team-mate George Dennison #107 has raced the Tureag Rally in Morocco on a number of occasions... and even he found the first day in the soft Tunisian dunes hard work. If you skip back a few pages, you'll see he is sporting a rather elaborate beard (a hangover from the Movember fundraising he participates in each year) - However this morning (Day 2) it was gone... it is hot and hard work in Tunisian sand!
#87 Tony Schattat's team-mates who are all racing under the Macad banner and competing Malle Moto, were in a confident if slightly apprehensive mood before the start yesterday:
L-R: #24 Polytimi Kyriakopoulou, #22 Guillaume Martens and #86 Edward Taylor:
All of them suffered in some way during the first stage - see Brodovich's post #202 above for specific news about Timi and Guillaume's day - while Ed found for some reason he was struggling with a severe lack of power from his 300 EXC - not something you would usually attribute to that machine!
Fortunately on the way back from refueling in the evening, Tony spotted that the tail pipe was glowing red hot with the heat, and after some investigation, it turns out Ed had bought a replacement front pipe that had an emissions restrictor welded inside - severely limiting the exhaust gas exit, and no doubt the cause of his constant over-heating problems... With a quick beg and a borrow around the bivouac, Ed found a German car team who were able to slice open the pipe, removed the offending gauze, and re-weld it together again overnight - result!
And finally, as the competitors leave the soft sand behind for a few days and head north towards Gafsa, I think it was probably these guys who had the best
vehicle for crossing Tunisian dunes yesterday:
As for myself, I travelled the assistance route today with Patsy in the huge Desert Rose Racing support truck, and we arrived at the second bivouac hotel in plenty of time. Fortunately I have been able to secure my own room (with like a proper bed and everything!) for tonight, and it would seem the hotel has a pretty decent wifi connection too... Although I am somewhat concerned by the 2-inch thick metal box-section bars that surround the hotel lobby front door like it's some sort of bullion vault; and similarly the huge steel shutter doors that enclose the car park like we're some kind of fortress - I hope they're not expecting trouble in Gafsa tonight!