Rally Team Still On the Dakar Trail

Life in the Dakar Bivouac is interesting and challenging. A mini city is set up at each point along the some 5,000 mile Dakar route through Argentina, Chile and Peru. The organization sets up information points for competitors, media and there are showers, bathrooms, a dining hall, emergency medical center and an information center where nearly live updates on the action can be viewed by anyone in the bivouac.

The bivouac is the brain and life center of Dakar. But with the long transit stages over the last three days, most competitors barely have the time to see where they stand because they must work on their vehicles and get much needed sleep.

So while Robb and Ben and the Darkcyd Racing Team are now out of the race, there is much energy and excitement about Dakar and the competition by simply following the race route. And as the first ever effort for the Darkcyd Racing Team, the experience learned as the days go on is invaluable. Will Darkcyd compete again? There are no decisions — yet. But if there was another showing at Dakar, the information and experience, both on and off the course is invaluable. The team will continue on and follow the action until it reaches Lima in about 10 days.

Today the mood of the team lightened. The approximately 450km transit from San Juan to Chilecito culminated with a dramatic ride through a spectacular canyon of red rocks accented by brilliant orange, sage and mocha colors. The narrow two lane dirt road climbed to 6,000 feet and the more we climbed the river winding below faded from view. But dirt road had nary a guard rail and the drop into the river below would me death for anyone not paying attention. The vistas of the colored ragged cliffs and scraggy landscape along the river were stunning. But the sound of engines roaring and the view of motorcyclists, quads and cars winding their way back to the bivouac after some 6 or 7 hours of racing was equally impressive.

The team enjoyed a leisurely day. No longer was the fate of the Desert Warrior and its iconic duo of Robb and Ben a worry. They were with us. While the team thought they’d make it further, it is important to note that almost 100 competitors had dropped out of the race by the end of the day. This is a serious race. This is a hard race.

Fellow American team, Mark McMillim, a legendary Baja California racing team, that perhaps has scored more wins that nearly any other, had made Dakar 2012 its first showing too. Mark was out of the race. That leaves only two other Americans in the race for Dakar 2012: Robbie Gordon and Darren Skilton. You may remember that Darren and Robb worked together as Darren gave Robb the invaluable sand dune training in California in early December.

Darren is still in the race. And so is professional Robbie Gordon and his new teammate Nassar Al-Attiyah. And on a motorcycle still hanging in there is N. Suesse (#81).

We will continue watching the American cars and hopefully have a chance to catch up with the handful of American motorcyclists still in the race.