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Old 01-01-2006, 12:21 AM   #10
Formerly AKA Boejangles
Renazco's Avatar
Joined: Apr 2003
Location: Santa Rosa, Ca.
Oddometer: 4,742
Dakar First Stage Complete

"More Fun than Legally Allowed
... unless you're driving Dakar"

December 31, 2005
Have you ever dreamt of opening up your car through a mountain pass road or racing through the city streets without regard to the neighborhood cops? The Dakar drivers understand completely-they're LIVING YOUR DREAM! The first stage of Dakar took the drivers through Lisbon's streets and into the countryside as the drivers made their way to Portimäo, Portugal. Spectators line the streets to partake in the race.

Ronn Bailey started his race day early. The last morning in Lisbon, Bailey traded the comfort of his hotel for the Dakar expedition. At 9043 kilometers through the Sahara desert, the Dakar stands above all off-road rallies as the longest, roughest and most grueling race. With the start just hours away, competitive anticipation dominates most drivers' thoughts. A veteran to competition in business, Ronn handles the pressure in spite of his amateur status. "I'm more confident this year. I know what to expect, but still there are some driving conditions that are unfamiliar to me. It's been raining for the last few days. The kind of conditions I don't see in Las Vegas, Nevada."

The Stage 1 course started in Lisbon but quickly transitioned into narrow, tree-lined country roads. Even the slightest driving errors could put the car at risk. Rains turned the dirt roads to mud which was deep at times. Drivers found it difficult to negotiate the sharp turns of the course. Bailey's car slid and sideswiped a tree on one turn, causing cosmetic damage to the passenger side of the car. Attempting to avoid deep mud, Bailey tried to navigate through a grassy field which proved to be impassable. On another tight turn, Bailey lost control of his car and slid toward the spectators on the outside corner of the turn. Fortunately the car slid slowly enough for the crowd to escape its path. No one was hurt.

According to Bailey, "The car performed well but we did have two technical difficulties. My intra-car commutations systems failed so I was unable to speak or receive audio instructions from my navigator, Herve Cotel. We had to improvise and use hand signals to communicate, crude but effective. My gear position indicator wasn't reading true, so I had to shift based only on my RPM reading-not a big deal. The communication system definitely needs to be working before we hit the desert."

When asked to characterize the day, Bailey responded, "The countryside is very beautiful, lush with greenery, and very wet. Despite my mishaps, I'm pleased with the day's results. I was able to pass two or three cars and am hopeful that I improved by standing. I won't know my time results until later tonight. I'm having a blast…more fun than legally allowed…unless you're driving Dakar."

Team Vanguard Stage 1 Standings Car #317 Gache / Garcin 37th Car Class 1:07:03
Car #354 Bailey / Cotel 59th Car Class 1:09:50
Motorcycle 180 Kevin Heath 95th Motorcycle Class 1:13:10
T4 Truck 544 Brault / Crespo 55th T4 Truck Class 6:17:01 (5 hr penalty)

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