December 28, 2011
Argentina | South America 11:36 PM
It Shouldn't Start This Way
The Dakar Test Weighs Heavy on Darkcyd Team
As I boarded my plane in San Diego, I knew there was a shadow of a doubt that ship carrying the Desert Warrior and the T5 assistance vehicle might not make it on time, factoring the time it takes to clear customs and the team’s need to make its Friday early AM appointment for inspection and scrutineering with the Dakar organization in Mar del Plata, a seaside resort some 4 hours southwest of Buenos Aires. Top that off with the fact that Argentina celebrates holiday from the 24-26th of December. Nothing gets done on holiday.
Failure to get the ship and meet our deadline would mean disqualification from the race and the massive expense, energy and excitement for naught.
When I received word from Robb during my one-hour layover in Dallas that the ship was due to arrive and that the shipping and clearing agent was confident the container and vehicles would be cleared the morning of our arrival.
Our assistant “fixer” a local accountant and friend Cristian, my buddy from Chile, met the entire team at the airport. However, by 10am we had no confirmation that our container cleared customs. At 2pm while running around downtown Buenos Aires, we were still waiting. Everyone could sense the tension in Robb. It seemed every fifteen minutes he’d ask Pablo to call the shipping and clearing agent. No matter the number of calls, by 3:30 we still had no word.
Sometime after 4pm we were told to head to the warehouse where our container would land after clearing customs at the port. Robb, Raff, Bill and Pablo headed to the warehouse while the rest of us waited at the hotel for the arrival of the Desert Warrior and T-5 assistance vehicle.
At 7:20pm the vehicles rolled up to our hotel here in Retiro, one of the more affluent sections of Buenos Aires. Due to the height and length of the T5 Assistance vehicle, a Chevy s500 HD fitted with extra racks, tool boxes and more, we were unable to park in the hotel garage. Thanks to Dario, our other fixer and friend in Buenos Aires, had a back up garage set up just across from the hotel.
As Ben fired up the engine and planned to pull the newly renovated and customized Desert Warrior into the garage, he pushed in the clutch, the pedal just dropped to the floor.
As Ben fired up the engine and planned to pull the newly renovated and customized Desert Warrior into the garage, he pushed in the clutch, the pedal just dropped to the floor. What? He pressed again. Nothing. Raff noticed fluid oozing down the Buenos Aires street. The Desert Warrior sat on the side of the rode like a prized trophy, nothing more. The hydraulic system that activates the clutch, the slave cylinder, it seems blew a seal. Raff shook his head. This wasn’t the first time this happened. As the team prepared the vehicle months ago, it did the same thing. So Raff and team replaced the cylinder and all the seals.
So what happened? Good questions. The better questions is: “Can we fix this, get the car to inspection and be approved to race by Friday morning. It’s Wednesday nearly midnight. It’s our first day in Buenos Aires. We know this is a grueling race. We know that fewer than 35% of those who start ever make it to the finish line. Could we be one of the few that never makes it to the starting line?
For the race to Dakar and the Darkcyd Racing Team, it shouldn’t start this way. We’re in trouble and we haven’t even recovered from our long flights.
Our Fixer in Buenos Aires, Pablo Cariddi grabs the wheel of the Desert Warrior.
Posted by admin
There are no comments for this entry.
Make a comment
Thanks for signing in,
Now you can comment. (sign out)
(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)