How to survive the Dakar
A beginners guide to spectating at the world's most demanding endurance competition
Posted: 22 Jan 2014
We're ‘making progress'. Overtaking the race cars which are penalized if they break the speed limit. "Ooh-er", I say (that's how his name is pronounced apparently), "how much fuel have we got?"
"Er, four bars", comes the reply
"What's the range?"
Three of us crane over the driver with recommendations of how to make the trip computer work.
I start stabbing at the Garmin. There's a fuel station in 60km. Phew
It's in completely the wrong direction. Back where we came from. More stabbing. The next one in this direction is 230km...
We've given up asking Uwe to slow down and conserve fuel. He doesn't seem capable of it. Nerves are fraying and the sun is only just up. There's a town called Beazley up ahead. It is the only town on our route.
Crowds of people surround the only junction in town. The Dakar is a national event here - everyone comes out for it. Many dress up for the occasion. We search out the only policeman, but as we slow the whole crowd surrounds us, eager to get close to anything that has a hint of Dakar about it.
We have three languages on board. None of them is Spanish and we're in rural Argentina. We go with English. "Petrol?" Quizzical looks. Amazing how it took at least 30 seconds of random words before any of us thought to get out of the car and gesture at the fuel flap... "Ah, nafta" cheers the crowd and as one they look back to where we've come from. Oh God...