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Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2016

GEO_DXB

Well-Known Member
And so it goes.


Regulations Version 1 is now live - Regulations

Rally guide is live - http://abudhabidesertchallenge.com/rallyguide2016

With two months to go preparations are starting and some of the local GCC crews are getting ready. We have a few events left in the local championship as well as some non-championship rallies to get the cars and crews tested before ADDC. Unfrotunately I have missed the first half of the season and have not been out in the desert since late last year. Probably means a lot of testing in March and breaking in my co-driver who only starts racing. Probably also means no more pies and beers until after the prize giving at ADDC 2016 (thats if we start and finish). By the looks of it we are having a much more comfy outing then last year when we had organizers tents to sleep in. This year hopefully will be different. I will be driving a Predator X18-S built under both SCORE and FIA regulations. The buggy is being rebuilt now and gets a new engine, new electronics and tune, revised cooling system, some changes in the steering and a new cab ountline giving more space to driver and navigator. We are also looking at integrating a CTIS and additional storage for things we carry. Unfortunately no hydraulic jacks as there's simply no place to put them on. Should be an interesting couple of months.
 

mrlentle

Well-Known Member
Very cool Geo. Perhaps some updates along the way (with pics and maybe video;)) during prep, practice and even during the event if possible? It'd be great to get a bit more insight as to how the other rallys are compared to the Dakar.
 

GEO_DXB

Well-Known Member
We're having a big enough media team that will cover the event, with photographers flying in from Europe so we hope we can cover the event well and actually live. If people are interested i will post updates regularly on how we get everything ready.
 

GEO_DXB

Well-Known Member
Mark will be team manager this time. And the Predator he had is now with me, mark keeps a bigger Fast&Speed buggy which now looks like a TT.
 

GEO_DXB

Well-Known Member
Not too sure yet, registration opened only 2 weeks ago, so most teams not yet signed up. Local folk will be in, minus the well known racer from UAE Ali Al Shawi - he had a nasty crash at a rally and I dont think will recover before DC. Might have some news tomorrow.
 

GEO_DXB

Well-Known Member
Well OK, guess I will just have to type it all up again.

3 days ago a meeting took place in one of Dubai's nicer places with a view of water, sand and sailboats. Desert Dog, myself and a chap who shall be known as James-whodriveslikeanoldlady were present to discuss the participation of Saluki Motorsport in the Abu Dhabi desert Challenge 2016. Pints were had, questions were covered. We mainly discussed logistics of the event, list of things to buy/procure/dont forget to bring, do's and dont's of the whole event and many other things. I was then scolded by both Mark and James for thinking more of the camp then of my racing. Well i guess intrigues, backstabbing and royal politics all got thrown in the mix and I was demoted of my camp boss status and James, who ran Saluki camp for years was reinstated as the person in charge of everything non-race related. I, in the meantime, will be sitting in an open-cockpit car, eating dust at +50C and suffering greatly, while some others will chill in the comforts of an air-conditioned RV luring female passers with cold drinks and hot tap water.

Well then that's what desert racing is all about then. They will be showing the chicks the cold motorhome full of reshreshments. I might get a plastic trinket or a DNF sign. Hmmmmm...... On a more serious note we went through initial logistics discussions, sorted out a few administrative questions and an executive decision was made to take it seriosuly this year and put fun, games and cold beers aside up until we all finish the vent in style.

Then, in line with all that has been discussed, Sunday, which normally is the first day of the working week was devoted to me going around town. First, I went to ATCUAE, the governing body for motorsports in UAE to renew my international rally license. Conveniently located on the other side of town, ATC has some nice premises:
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Inside, you are greeting with a Toyota Celica of the times where rally drivers were rugged and cars were turboed group A.
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Submitting a couple of medical forms, copies of IDs and driving licenses for myself and my co-driver Jordan (who hails from New Zealand and at 20 years old it's his first motorsport event) and the equivalent of USD 800 I took the opportunity to chat to the ADDC organizers. Now, for those of you who love gossip... rumours of 4 Overdrive vehicles, 3-4 Minis, no Peugeot yet. 4 South Racing vehicles, 3 factory-team french Polarises (they also bring a T1 car i think ). Confirmed a T2 Raptor from Poland (Kazberuk), Yasser Seaidan from Saudi Arabia in a T2 Toyota Prado. Mobilex from Kazakhstan with 3 vehicles - 2 H3 Evos and ex-Overdive Toyota.Hungarians - I recon the Opel of Szalay but cannot confirm. And on top of this... Confirmed now is Mathieu Serradori in his new buggy. He nearly won Ecorace in a stock Predator so will be interesting to check out his new ride and have him check out my Predator. Around 25 bike entrants from UAE alone with more from the region... Local drivers tend to register much later, so not much news. Apart from the fact that Desert Dog's Saluki Motorsport enters 2 client cars - my Predator X18 and a Nissan Patrol Pickup T1. Mark himself will be team manager this year and will not drive. After some friendly banter at ATC, I headed for their techincal center to sort out some scruteneering issues for my older vehicle that will enter this Friday's Emirates Desert Championship Round 4. Basically a 2-hour baja on a loop of 15-20 kms, open to cars, SSVs, bikes and quads. After submitting the required documents and in return getting the needed roll cage sticker, I headed out to town to buy things from a long list of racing groceries. First were 2 sat phones followed by cool boxes, electric bits and pieces, tarps, and some other necessities. That took a while and after spending a good part of the day I headed to where desert dogs live. Saluki Motorsport's fabrication was busy enoguh with my car being overhauled -
IMG_20160207_1731180.jpg


Final checks and work on differentials conducted on the fearsome T1 Nissan, built from scratch by Saluki. This was born as a Nissan Patrol Pickup and now has an LS3, full Donerre suspension, custom fabrication cage, rear end, reinforced chassis, carbon body parts, MoTeC electronics and many other nice things.
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On another note a Tomcat gets an overhaul following a crash at a rally

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Mark's Fast&Speed buggy, now styled like a TT sleeps in the corner. LS3 with possibility of LS7 in this long-term or shall we say long-unfinished project.
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And a couple of Polaris RZRs with roll cages built to Emirates Desert Championship specs
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Somewhere around that time I was thrown out of the shop kicking and screaming. I think they will start charging me entrance fees soon.

More to follow...
 

Attachments

GEO_DXB

Well-Known Member
since i typed it all up again, can the post with broken photos be killed? sorry for all the bother.
 

mrlentle

Well-Known Member
Wow - more than I was expecting!
Thanks Geo, looking forward to more updates.
 

Desert Dog

Dakar Finisher
Thanks George! Nice to see what we're up to!

We have a long standing team member who will fly in from the UK who will be our press guy, so you can expect a load of daily updates and photos when the event kicks off.
 

ZequeArgentina

Well-Known Member
This is getting good, I do not recall to have this good info from inside a team to take part of ADDC before!
Good preparation for you and to Mark team
 

GEO_DXB

Well-Known Member
well then, let's have some more.
Friday was Round 4 of Emirates Desert Championship. This is basically the national championship of UAE, taking place in the emirate of Dubai (although there were talks of other locations). It is fairly simple - you got bikes (different classes + women's class), quads, buggies (which are national class Polaris, Yamaha, Rage etc.) + usual T1 and T2 cars. Some Polarises are scuteneered as T1 so are part of auto standings. Each race is 2 hours during which you must cover as many laps as you can. Typical lap is 15-20 kms for cars and up to 25 for bikes, bikes and cars have different route and merge just before the finish/pit zone.

Since my buggy is not ready we took out my other car - which is an ex-factory Ssangyong Musso built for 1997 Dakar. Interesting story behind the korean effort, as 2 cars were sold to UAE early 2000-s to do Desert Challenge. One (with a cantilever suspension!!!) is now thrown out somewhere in an industrial area, while mine was parked into an air-conditioned storage and sat there for over 10 years, up until it was refitted about a year ago. It was a T2, so no cantilever, but since it is no longer FIA homologated it it now a T1. It's got Mercedes running gear (3.2L engine + auto gearbox), mainly carbon/fiberglass body panels, dual Rieger shocks per wheel and was built by a professional french motorsport outfit to no expense. Yet, with 6L GM engines put into nearly every car in UAE, we are say... slower than the others. Yet it is a great chance to train and get some seat time. It was also the first ever time with my new co-driver. As is we had 2 cars - Musso and the new T1 Patrol, but brought no other toys as we decided to make it a quick one and simply drive in the trailers and recovery flatbeds with race cars and have 1 support Chevy dually and Mark's daily driver Patrol as management vehicle. Race starts at 8.30 normally and first its waves of bikers (they get up to 90 bikes per event, i think this time was 96???), then mix of quads and cars and SSVs.

My co driver Jordan dropped in to my place at around 6.15am just as a recovery truck picked up the race car and drove to race location some 75kms into the desert. By 7.30 we got to the biv, which was a fairly close call as driver briefing starts usually at 7.45. Quickly paid entry fees, grabbed timing trackers, changed. This time, due to many people looking for location as well as some managing to get trailers and cars stuck on the way (you basically drove all the way on paved roads and last few hundred meters only on sand) the briefing started at around 8.15. Then it was declared that since ambulances have not yet arrived at the scene it all might be postponed for another hour and then in another 5 mins the ambulances showed up and start time was again 8.30. It also turned out our tracker wasnt working properly so I had to run back and forth around the camp to try and get this fixed and managed to jump into the car just 2-3 mins before our start time (you all get start times with 1 min intervals). We were some of the last to start, with 7 total auto entrants, others being 4 Nissan Patrols (and one of them actually looked like a Toyota Tacoma to me LOL) and 2 Polarises. Quick start in between the quads who used the bike track, couple a hundred meteres on a very dusty straight and into the dunes. There is no road books or prerunning or recche of any kind, the route is marked by triangles for cars and rounds for bikes.Theres also not much navigation and many entrants go without co-drivers, yet it is great to have someone mark dangerous locations and my navigator Jordan did just that as well as pointed out some crests and drops. Althogether it was really great and we enjoyed it both, Jordan doing an amazing job of guiding me through the track. We had a nice sabkha - or a little flat plain in between the dunes where we probably got the max speed out of the car ever. Then it all got wrong as we got into a more technical section with smaller dunes that go one after another and where you need to keep your momentum or you risk to be stuck. That was exactly what happened to us, but we were lucky when Mark showed up in his Patrol with some guests onboard and towed us out of the sandtrap as digging did not do much good. After maybe 1-2 kms we managed to get stuck again which was totally my mistake as we got stranded on the crest of a dune. As soon as Mark got us out again we rolled down the dune and got stuck in soft sand, but Mark and co. ran to help us straight away. This kind of help is actually allowed so we were good. We then had a couple of minutes of calm driving trying to catch our breathes and calm down and went around another technical section where we had to push the engine to the max to keep up with dunes. Thats when myself and Jordan noticed something strange in the car - vibration and noise and i've noticed that the gears werent shifting right. We kept on and as soon as we got into a huge and very quick sabkha the cabing was full of smoke. We quickly bailed out only to find out that the gearbox was badly leaking and some oil got onto the exhaust system. That was it for us as we did not risk driving further and being on fire. Quick call to rally control and told them we would wait for our crew to get us out, then some of the guys handling a PC - which was in our vicinity - came by to check on us. Anotehr phone call to mark only to find out he was towing the T1 patrol back to pits. After about 40 mins of chatting sitting in the open desert Mark finally showed up and quickly towed us back to camp, while gearbox got totally screwed up and the last few kms filled the cab with smoke of metal-on-metal burning. Turned out Nissan had mechanical issues and so both our entries DNF. Not a good day, but it all counts towards experience. And probably many lenghty trips around Sharjah scrap yards looking to get a new gearbox or do a total swap for maybe a Lexus V8... Who knows... A few well-deserved beers were had later over some nice pizzas as me and Jordan recapped the days events and discussed further steps and how we can enhance our driving. See ya next time that is...

And a few photos:

Just before the start
musso3.jpg


Started around some quads:

musso2.jpg


musso1.jpg



Sitting in a sabkha waiting to be recovered:

musso4.jpg
 

Desert Dog

Dakar Finisher
Actually my guest was John Goldie, the main man from Race2Recovery, who had flown in to see what the events in the Emirates are like.

Some of you Dakar aficionados will know the injured servicemen who entered the Dakar a couple of years ago.

 

ZequeArgentina

Well-Known Member
Good reading, and seems Mark seemed worked hard even not racing!!

How did you find that old Sssangyong, 10 years in an air conditioned garage, that cost much more than the vehicle itself?!?!?!
 

ZequeArgentina

Well-Known Member
And related to your old Ssaangyong, please read report of Stage 1 of Dakar 1997:

"Patrick Tambay was happy with the handling of his SsangYong, but was a little startled when it decided to make its own gear-changes! He finished the stage in 12th position.
Team-mate Jerome Riviere had a bad start in his SsangYong, stopping after just one km with a gear-box oil
leak. At first he thought he would have to wait for his service truck, but eventually managed to get going again, but had almost no oil in the gear-box throughout the stage. He has stopped on the road section to wait for his service crew to top him up, before covering the final kilometres to the bivouac He finished 18th"

It looks you have "Riviere" car and still has same problems!!

It seem both cars did not finished stage 2nd.
 
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GEO_DXB

Well-Known Member
Yes known story, theres a youtube video too.

One or anotehr way we will bring her back to the race course. Its a fun car despite anything.
 
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