Day 1 started off by attending drivers brief at Yas Marina, really interesting and informative and a chance to see the rally from the driver’s side. We then headed off down to the prologue at the Marina Mall, then quickly dashed away to get the first of our offroad drives in – taking the rally route into the plateau. Last year I was stationed here too, and I wondered what was taking everyone so long to get there- well now I know! Small dunes but some very soft patches, real technical stuff (being polite here, my usual terminology is “technical s**t), so although you can see the plateau for miles, getting there is somewhat challenging!
We set up camp, Wallie took some lovely sunset photos, had a fine bbq provided by Vince.
Next morning saw us set up our passage control point, where it was our job to stamp the competitor’s race cards as they went through.
We saw some interesting sights, a military formation fly by with a big cargo/passenger jet with smaller jets as “outriders”, a car team getting solidly stuck on a dune (2 of them!), we had a helicopter drop off a medic at us in the morning so he could pick up a sweep team – I think they only stopped by for the scottish-arabian tablet!
It was a quick morning/early afternoon and as soon as we were stood down, we headed via gatch and backroads over towards Madinat Zayed, refueled at Mizaira’a, had the quickest shopping expedition ever into the al Dafrah co-op, then finally hit the sand about 6pm to make our way via the rally route to our Tuesday PC control, 37kms in from the road.
Last October when in Liwa, I had a very near roll-over in the dark, and since then I have been seriously scared of offroading after sunset, however I know the terrain in this particular area, and Wallie and Vince were happy to follow me as I led them to our campspot. It wasn’t easy although I had a track to follow, but that has good and bad points – it means I have to look at the garmin every few seconds as well as watching the terrain and making sure that all would go home with their bumpers still attached. We covered over 30kms after sunset, about 27kms in total darkness. Thanks guys for helping me lay my night drive demons to rest!
Once we had set up camp, I cooked camel stew with tatties (part-pre-prepared and frozen), and after supper it was time for a quick wash and a long sleep! We had a fine feast of bacon and eggs in the morning, and in no time the first bike was arriving. PC2 of special stage two is set on a flat area with small dunes around us, so we could see the vehicles coming a long way from us.
We had a biker with a broken bike stay with us for quite a while, until a sweep team came past with a spare seat, we had a quad rider who had hurt her shoulder and had to retire at our checkpoint. Aberdeen rider (based in Oman), Davie Donald stopped for a quick fag and we had a fine chat with him, and we had another car who’s driver needed to have a rest in a car with working A/C. So all-in-all a busy checkpoint again.
If ever you are driving through the Liwa desert, you will find lots of poles and posts left by the Course Supervisor to mark waypoints – you will know which ones I have been stationed at as I have decorated them all with my trademark pink duct tape! (I will blame this act of lunacy on being out in sun too long!)
A BIG thanks to Wallie for letting me use some of his lovely photos for my blog – although we have the same camera he has the talent and patience to get much more out of it than I ever will!