Amongst much pomp and ceremony at the annual Baghdad Motorsports and Small Arms Expo
, the newly formed middle east motor racing syndicate - "Surface 2 Air Racing"
- unveiled their ambitious plans to field a late entry in the pinnacle T1 Auto category of the 2103 DAKAR Rally, to invited media, press and dignitaries late yesterday.
In a press release issued from their downtown Baghdad workshop and race headquarters facility, the team's manager - Mr I Saiid Al Kayba - made this statement;
"Our team felt that it was time for Irak to step up and enter this most famous of desert rallies... for many years our drivers have tamed the wilds of our great land, and now we will seek to attain glory upon a new world stage. After the 2008 rally's unfortunate cancellation, we felt that the DAKAR lacked a little something - in terms of challenge - since moving to South America... and so, with the support of our sponsors Screaming Shiite Energy Drink and funding from the Gaza Goodwill and Sportsmanship Association, we hope to bring the "excitement" back to the DAKAR!"
The vehicle - designated as the S2AR Intimidator T1
- is a rear engined/rear wheel drive spacefamed buggy, built to full FIA and NATO specifications. A couple of features that are immediately obvious are the fact that this is a three seater vehicle; equipped with two rather conspicuous 50mm "proximity beacons" (sentinel system).
In a startling move, the S2AR team have requested one of the absolute last starting numbers... not so much because of their "rookie" driver status, but as an integral part of their race and mechanical support strategy;
"Yes, we have equipped the Intimidator T1 with a rather unique and patented overtaking signal/tyre deflation system for the dune stages... In the spirit of goodwill and sportsmanship that we wish to foster in this years event, we plan to use our two 50mm "sentinals" to warn the competitors ahead of us of our intention to pass, and to assist them with rapid deflation of their tyres."
- Mr Al Kayba stated in the press release.
The vehicle is to be crewed by three experienced Iraki desert racers; the Driver: Gheddis Faddi Oudda-Mepantz
, navigator/co-driver: Hurri-Yahp Pwilya
and mechanic/tyre changer: Al "Boom Boom" Jihad
The crew is not at all fazed by the prospect of starting at the rear of the field... it is in fact an ingenious part of their race strategy...
"Yes... we anticipate that course this year be will very tough, and attrition rate of competitors ahead quite high. To find spare parts, tyres and fuel in the desert... this something is that we very skilled at... No problem! With co-driver Hurri-Yahp me showing the direction and "Boom Boom" in third seat operating "senitnel" beacon, I think not we have many problems overtaking..."
said Faddi Oudda-Mepantz at the launch.
Other design features of the S2AR Intimidator T1 are the two racks on each side of the vehicle for storage of fuel jerry cans and spare tyres that "overtaken" competitors donate to the team as they pass.
Although the vehicle is a three seater vehicle, it still just scrapes in over the FIA minimum
weight requirement, through a judicial non-use of such non essential items like bodywork, windscreen and doors etc. and is equipped with only a modest 100 liter fuel cell... Which mandates a fairly aggressive driving style each leg, in order to "pass" rival competitors before the first 100-150 kilometers of each day's special stage is completed... sometimes even on transport stages.
Team mechanic "Boom Boom" Jihad commented; "Yes... is true... Fuel range on Intimidator T1 is restricted. So is critical that Gheddis have finger out early in stage, and put me in range to use "sentinal"... always our experience in past; is someone willing to help us... is famous "DAKAR spirt" of cameraderie... you know...?!"