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Old 03-22-2014, 05:45 AM   #256
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Scrutineering passed with no problems for the whole Torque Racing team, and the rally in general prepared for some serious racing right from the start...

I don't know who this bike belongs to (other than Stefano Chiussi of course), but it looked sweet in the scrutineering line... I'm a sucker for pretty colours I am!



Martin and John putzing around with the EFi mapping for the LC4-50 - saves getting your fingers all stinky with petrol changing jets eh?



Day Zero wasn't plain-sailing for everyone though, while the competitors seemed to have it covered, Alessio Corradini was having some stator trouble with his 990 Adventure... I can just hear Zippy (from Desert Rose Racing) sucking his teeth and saying "Nah, it's f*cked mate..."



Alessio did of course eventually get it sorted, and as you've seen, got out on the stage each day and got some awesome pictures!

This year, Dutch motorsport TV show Top Speed were filming the whole rally, and host Martin Utberg was busy interviewing all the competitors during the week... here he is speaking with #51 Maikel Verkade, who, despite this being his first rally-raid event, was a contender for the top spot this year:



more...

JMo (& piglet) screwed with this post 03-22-2014 at 08:21 AM
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Old 03-22-2014, 06:02 AM   #257
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So, it was a quick zip down the road from the hotel to the Camel Track (yep, where they race camels!) which would be the start of each stage from Douz this year...

The Profi cars were away first - here is #201 a Desert Warrior driven by Jesus Henriquez (ESP) and navigator Edd Cobley (GBR)



After the rip-snorting Porsche 911 of the 2013 event, the car class this year featured more weird Teutonic metalwork!



That is a mid-engined, space-frame chassis'ed VW bus!

Catching all the action from the air again this year, Orga video producer and ace heli-cam pilot Reinhard Haug was happily buzzing the competitors away from the line each morning!



New for 2014 was the Truck class - yes, full-on 4x4 and 6x6 trucks were actually allowed to race over the same course as the cars (and moto amateurs) - what were they thinking?!

Yes, inevitably this happened... barely 400 yards from the start line on day one!



So how to you recover a huge 6x6 bio-diesel truck that has fallen off a dune?

With another huge truck of course... and when that doesn't work, you attach a Unimog too!



The desert meerkats certainly enjoyed the show!



more...
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Old 03-22-2014, 06:15 AM   #258
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So eventually, it was time for the bikes to start!

UK MX ace but first time rally-raid rider #59 Richard Main (GBR) was pensive at the thought of navigation:



One of only two women racing in the Moto class this year, #310 Giada Beccari making good progress on stage 1 (she would later become infamous for launching her bike up a steep rock step at the bottom of the Scuba pass on day 2 - captured perfectly on film!)



Meanwhile, back on the starting line - sartorial elegance is not a pre-requisite for rally-raid it would seem...



The bikes head off into battle...



As I headed back to the hotel (on foot!), towards the end of the first lap, I snapped this rider negotiating with a local to borrow his moped so he could go back to the bivouac and fetch his spare wheel, as the rear mousse had melted and thrown the tyre from the rim...



more...
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Old 03-22-2014, 06:34 AM   #259
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One of the anomalies of the Tuareg Rallye is the Orga's insistence you can't have dinner before 9pm (presumably in an effort to ensure you don't miss the competitors' briefing each evening at 8pm), and this is doubly frustrating in Tunisia when a number of the days end mid-afternoon - too late for lunch in the hotel, but hours before dinner at nine...

Increasingly assistance teams are providing snacks and drinks for riders when the come in, but Torque Racing really upped the game this year with some excellent catering by team manager Donna Gray - her roasted chicken footlong baguettes have already become legendary around the bivouac, and subsequently saw other teams scurrying out to the shops each morning just to keep their riders suitably sated!



Day 2 also saw John Mitchinson (KTMmitch) take the LC4-50 out for it's first proper test ride - his plan was to shadow the rally (which transfered from Douz to Gafsa) and provide additional assistance at the refueling points where Martin Wittering and Carl (Hagenblad) from Raid Designs would be providing remote service in the second Torque Racing vehicle.



At the start of day 2, some riders were in jovial mood - here #300 Andrew Newland (GBR) is clearly relieved that day one was not as tough as last year:


Other riders were slightly more apprehensive - last year's overall winner #21 Mark Smits (NDL) had a lot to live up to, particularly as his son Rob is just as fast (and often faster!)


Meanwhile, we can always trust an Aussie to give us a smile! - #22 Ben Young (AUS) was already enjoying his first African rally, and would go on to put in a storming performance all week...


Don't forget, it can be tough out there!


more...
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Old 03-22-2014, 06:53 AM   #260
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Old 03-22-2014, 06:55 AM   #261
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Old 03-22-2014, 07:01 AM   #262
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Day 3 was another transfer stage from Gafsa to Nefta... only 200 kms, so a lot of the riders would be in around lunchtime (indeed this was the day of the legendary chicken baguettes in the Torque Racing tent!)...

Despite the bright start, the weather was chilly, and with a 25km liaison from the hotel to the startline, many riders elected to wear wind-proofs and disguard them with their assistance teams (those that attended the start of course).

Here is #47 Tony Landh (SWE) preparing for the start of the special:


Tony was Torque Racing's high hope of a good finish for the team this year, and ultimately he didn't disappoint - with a 6th overall and highest placed Swedish rider, and improvement from his 2013 result of 9th o/a in his first desert rally!

Torque Racing's remote out-fuel at a CP between Gafsa and Nefta:



Today was the first time I got to ride the LC4-50 myself, and despite it being a little too high for me (with the TracTive 300mm suspension fitted), it rode surprisingly well for a big bike!

There is still some work to do with the EFi - Martin Wittering had only assembled the bike two days before it had to be shipped to Tunisia, so he brought along a laptop to tweek things up and down, based on the feedback John and I gave him during the week:



Ultimately we got it running pretty smoothly, other than right at the top end - which will need a proper dyno session to sort out, and ultimately we may well have to revert to the stock airbox vs. the open 690cc version that John had currently fitted to the bike, as the most likely explanation is that we are simply trying to put too much air and fuel through it's now reduced capacity.

Meanwhile, back at the Nefta bivouac, things had taken a distinct turn for the worst - there were naked bodies everywhere!

Swedish rider #48 Mattias Eriksson had been having trouble with his Kawasaki's head gasket, and had elected to strip down both his bike and himself, and change the engine for his spare:


Tuareg Rallye ace Carl Hagenblad was not riding this year (well, not in the race anyway), but instead had come along as part of the combined Torque Racing/OffroadService.SE service team to look after the Swedish riders.



Calle is committed to entering the Dakar in 2015, and Torque Racing will be providing his service assistance along with Mattias Karlsson and his 4x4 support truck - the Tuareg was the first opportunity for the team to work together as a whole.

Torque Racing not only provided full service assistance for riders, but also offered a 'transport only' option for those who preferred to do their own service work - here is 'Iron Man' XR600 pilot #58 Christopher Green (GBR) replacing his wheel bearings "Looking at them, I don't think they've ever been changed!" he grins as he worked on the 30 year old XR!



Don't laugh though - Chris went on to finish 16th overall in the Moto Profi class, including an epic 3rd place on stage 6!



more...

JMo (& piglet) screwed with this post 03-31-2014 at 01:15 PM
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Old 03-22-2014, 07:16 AM   #263
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Day 4 (Star Wars) would be the make or break for many riders' campaigns - certainly those that wished to finish the whole event without a time penalty for missing a waypoint/checkpoint.

Last year, the riders had to navigate 3 x 80 km laps of dunes and sand piste, with a sharp time cut-off, and any CPs that they had failed to reach would result in a 2 hour penalty each.... harsh.

This year, to mix it up even further, the course had been extend to four laps, a total distance of around 320kms, still with the same abrupt cut-off time.

Fortunately #22 Ben Young (AUS) was one of only a dozen or so riders to complete the day's stage without penalties:



With a backdrop of large dunes that surround one of the Star Wars Phantom Menace sets, the Torque Racing truck and team decamped to the desert to provide fuel and food for their riders all through the long hot day:



#47 Tony Landh (SWE) refueling after one of his four laps - Tony put in an epic performance today, finishing the stage in 4th place, just behind the Smits duo!



It was a good job that Mattias brought the Torque truck to the pit - as fellow Swedish competitors in a Toyota pick-up had suspension trouble and needed some assistance too:



Meanwhile, one of my other highlighted riders this year (#317 Paul Castle) was having his bike fettled by Desert Rose's Bernard McKevitt - I'm not sure what he's making of that goggle strap, but the look on his face is either confusion or condemnation!





Exactly!

more...

JMo (& piglet) screwed with this post 03-31-2014 at 01:17 PM
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Old 03-22-2014, 07:43 AM   #264
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Day 5 & 6's photography around the bivouac was effectively marred by strong winds, sand-storms and rain, however, I did mange to get a few shots of the riders in the action from the start of the special stages (to follow in part 2)...

However, that is perhaps insignificant compared the drama Donna Grey had on day five when she misfooted on the uneven stone carpark as she delivered Kazunori's rental bike to their service truck - resulting in a fractured ankle! (still, it didn't stop her from continuing for the rest of the rally, then driving home to the UK - totally hardcore!)



So without further ado, it's time I fast-forwarded to the finish of the final stage...

Once again I got a chance to ride the LC4-50, and met up with the riders at the finish line out on the desert, approximately 10 kms from the hotel:

#58 Chris Green (GBR) and #42 Roger Hawkins (SergeUK), exhausted but happy:




As you might notice, the rider on the left above is non other that Carl Hagenblad, who had convinced the Orga to let him ride the final stage (as his service work was essentially finished the night before) on #46 Stefan Andersson's (SWE) bike, who unfortunately had had to retire the day before with broken ribs.

Calle was in jubilant mood - having started right at the back but still managed to finish the stage in 3rd place onboard the bent and broken Husaberg!



Once all the competitors had assembled, there was a parade convoy back to the hotel... riding the LC4-50 one handed for most of the way, I managed to grab a few photos of the riders:

#22 Ben Young (AUS) - finished 7th overall, and with no penalty points:


#47 Tony Landh (SWE) - finished 6th overall, again with no penalty points:


#58 Chris Green (GBR) - finished 16th overall:


#317 Paul Castle (GBR) & #318 Gabriel Bolton (GBR) riding together as Team Dirtpunk/ZenOverland finished respectively 22nd and 23rd overall:


And perhaps my favorite shot of the ride, if not the rally itself!



more...

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Old 03-22-2014, 07:46 AM   #265
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So, once everyone arrived back at the Sahara hotel in Douz, it was time to party the only way Germans know how - with beer and heavy rock music!

Oh, and not to mention burnouts and donuts of course!


Local band tried in vain to play Rammstein's greatest hits...


Interviews with the winners:


Applause in general for everyone:


Beer and cameras, a volatile combination! - Zippy from Desert Rose Racing in party mode!


The winner of the Quad category... there is no other way to say it, this guy was HUGE!


The overall winner this year, #20 Rob Smits (NDL), celebrating in style!


So, that was my behind the scenes collection... I suppose you'll want to see some actual action shots now?!

More soon!

Toot toot!

Jenny xx

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Old 03-22-2014, 08:40 AM   #266
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Awesome Jenny

Thanks for all the hard work at the Rallye! Paul 317
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Old 03-22-2014, 08:52 AM   #267
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Yay, more pictures!!!
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Old 03-22-2014, 02:55 PM   #268
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Tuareg Rallye 2014 - part 2: riders review...

Since my primary job each year is to provide a personal daily media service for a number of riders, together with general reportage from the Rallye itself (which threw up it's own problems with a distinct lack of wifi bandwith this year), it means I tend to have little time [and logistics] to actually get out on the stages too - although fortunately with the start/finish of each special typically not too far from the bivouac hotel each day, meant that together with hitching a ride with the Torque Racing crew, I also had the opportunity to buzz the LC4-50 to various points, and capture some of the action at least...

This selection is from throughout the week, in no particular order - however, I will endeavour to list the rider name/number where possible, although some shots are pretty ambiguous...

So, without any more waffle from me, let's get this rider party started shall we?!

#37 Chris 'Corky' Cork (GBR) put in a steady performance all week on the Husqvarna, finishing 20th overall.


#42 Roger Hawkins (SergeUK) in fine form in the dunes on Day 4 - he just missed out on a clear round by a single checkpoint...


Rider # unknown (thirty something by the look of it) on day 1, using a Giant Loop Mojavi tailpack, as did a number of other riders...


#70 Lee Salt (LeeEXC) flying in fine style, again using the GL Mojavi bag system for rally essentials...


As it would appear was #28 Duncan Ure (GBR) - he was certainly field-testing the new Aurora MK1 magnetic-drive road-book holder, with great success!


more...

JMo (& piglet) screwed with this post 03-24-2014 at 03:26 PM
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Old 03-22-2014, 03:09 PM   #269
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#58 Chris Green (GBR) put in a storming performance on the 30 year old XR600 - finishing 16th overall, and 3rd on the penultimate stage!


#22 Ben Young (AUS) had shipped his Husaberg over from Australia via the UK, just for this event - the effort [and expense] was well rewarded with a 7th overall, and the coveted 'Tuareg Head' for finishing the week penalty free.


#42 Roger Hawkins (SergeUK) again - Rog is so tall he has the highest bar risers I've ever seen, plus his footpegs lowered on custom brackets!


Rider # unknown, but a sweet looking ride I'm sure you'll agree...


As was this rental bike ridden by #55 Hidekazu Noguchi (JPN) - Dutch rallye service team Memo Tours, have developed this kit that includes an 18 litre rear subframe/tank unit to fit current EFi KTM/Husqvarnas...


Another Torque Racing supported rider #38 Paul Lake (GBR) is a Tuareg Rallye regular, taking it steady in the big dunes on day 4...


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Old 03-22-2014, 03:33 PM   #270
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Time for a couple of cars perhaps?

This thing was insane!!! - the spirt of Rubby Gordon was alive and well out in Tunisia this year, with this V8 powered 2WD monster-buggy driven by German husband and wife team Ralf & Steffi Berlit...


Meanwhile, the British fought back with a precision tool in the form of a Bowler EXR, driven by Richard Hayward and co-piloted my Max-Traction's legend that is John Cockburn, who is of course most definitely Scottish, and not British!


Ok, enough of that nonsense - back to the bikes!

Swedish rider #46 Stefan Andersson was making short work of the day 4 dune stage - and was hot on the heels of friend and fellow countryman #47 Tony Landh all week... Unfortunately Stefan suffered a heavy fall on the penultimate day and had to retire with broken ribs...


Torque Racing rider #59 Richard Main (GBR) landing a heavy jump in the dunes - despite this being Richard's first navigation event, his natural speed saw him finish 15th overall, despite the odd penalty...


Not as flat as this guy mind you!


And finally [for now at least], #23 Stefano Chiussi (ITA) on that pretty bike, styling it for the cameras on stage 2


Stay tuned for part 3 and my final photo run-down of my highlighted riders this year - including a rather special treat from one Mr C. Hagenblad... plus, "So whatever happened to your 4th rider Keith Patstone then Jenny?"

More soon!

Jx

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