December 30, 2011
Travelogue 11:30 AM
[SIZE="4"]Registration & Inspection: The Dakar 2012 Edition[/SIZE]
When the Russian driver was informed he owed more than 100,000 Euros in order to complete his registration in the 2012 Edition of the infamous Dakar rally, I was again reminded that this is big business. Beyond the cost of registration, considerations include cost of the race vehicle, support personal and their vehicles, shipping of all the vehicles to South America and airfare for all those on the team.
Registration & Inspection: The Dakar 2012 Edition
In December of 2007, just days before the start of the 2008 Rally, the Dakar organization cancelled the legendary rally for safety considerations. Brutal executions in Mauritania claimed by Al Queda sealed the casket for any future African Dakar Rally. It’s South America’s rally today.
It would be impossible to get a new regulation suit in time for the race start, so inspectors took a flame to the thread used on the embroidery to see if it would burn.
Even as press covering the event, Tara and I needed to take our 2008 Ford Ranger with the camper home sitting in the bed through the Dakar safety inspection. We fitted the car with an emergency survival kit, two spare tires, reflective vests, fire extinguisher, a tool to break the windshield and cut the seat belts and more. Our vehicles was then officially designated as a Dakar vehicle, complete with the stickers of the rally and its sponsors. Our vehicle was designated to travel along the assistance route. Some other press had additional safety equipment and more rigorous inspection requirements, including roll cages and approved clothing.
For Robb and Ben, the set back with the clutch was followed by the need to put the Desert Warrior through a rigorous punch list to ensure all loose ends and safety issues were addressed prior to scrutinizing/inspection. LIke our press registration, both Robb, Ben and the Desert Warrior and Bill and Raff and the T5 support vehicle had to go through registration and then inspection.
While our Ford Ranger was fitted with the “Trippy” GPS unit, the Desert Warrior required a special tracking device and lockable GPS unit called an Iritrack. This not only receives GPS satellite signals, it can transmit location information to the Dakar organization. It’s also what allows us to follow in near real time vehicle position — like on the Darkcydrallyracing.com website.
The Desert Warrior had been fitted with new Iritrack device for the Baja 500 race, one that include more powerful antenna and reception. While it had been approved for an inside windshield install for Baja, the Dakar organization and the Iritrack support personnel on location forced Darkcyd Racing to drill a hole in the roof of the Desert Warrior and fit the antenna to the roof above the co-driver cockpit seat. This pushed the techs and the time allotted to complete the inspection.
It took more than an hour to secure appropriate connectors, cable and to attach the antenna, so it was nearly 6:30 by the time the Desert Warrior rolled into the Dakar inspection intent. Here the car was decorated with the appropriate stickers while inspectors scrutinized the car, even putting it up on a lift for a closer look. That’s where inspectors discovered that the there was no hole in a bolt on the turbo so they could seal it with a tag—kinda like the electric company does with a meter. But between Raff and Bill and the techs at Rally Raid UK, they drilled a hole while the inspectors completed the inspection and who eventually tagged and sealed the turbo. This would ensure that no changes or work could be done on the turbo during the race. The tag will be removed at the end of the race.
It’s here where the driver and co-driver clothing and safety devices are checked. Both Ben and Robb were fitted with custom made Sparco full body flame retardant racing suits. Sparco is the defacto standard racing suit used by top drivers in nearly every race circuit worldwide. Darkcyd Racing had ordered the suits with custom embroidered names just above the left breast. However Sparco had embroidered through three layers of fabric through to the inside lining. Dakar organization scolded the Darkcyd Team and informed them that the rules and regulations clearly state that nothing may penetrate the inside liner layer of racing suits. They even pointed out that Sparco’s logo and graphics didn’t penetrate the layer. Robb and Ben were befuddled as to why and how Sparco could let such an oversight passed quality control.
It would be impossible to get a new regulation suit in time for the race start, so inspectors took a flame to the thread used on the embroidery to see if it would burn. Alas, at least the thread was fireproof and the inspectors let the suits pass.
Meanwhile thousands of locals crammed the grassy area in front of the Argentinian Naval Base in Mar del Plata and waited patiently for each car to complete its inspection and ride up on ramp in front of a massive video display while local news media interviewed each driver. Robb and Ben jumped out of the car and handed out Darkcyd Racing stickers to eager and happy fans looking to connect with the racers.
Robb and Ben were now officially in the race.