How to survive the Dakar
A beginners guide to spectating at the world's most demanding endurance competition
Posted: 22 Jan 2014
Actually they're not pointing straight up the road, they're pointing slightly off to the side. At a shack. "Nafta?" we ask. "Si, nafta, nafta" comes the reply. We drive over. A man comes tottering out. Five foot two and with legs so bowed it looks like he's spent his whole life with his ankles hooked under a horses belly. Which he probably has. "Nafta?" we ask. "Si, nafta", comes the reply, the broad grin revealing a shortage of teeth. He disappears and comes back lugging two 5-litre cans labeled, in English, cooking oil. The liquid inside is, I kid you not, bright blue. "Nafta?" I ask him. "Si, nafta, nafta", he replies through the same keen grin, whipping out half an Evian bottle as the funnel. It's while I'm holding this in place, watching the liquid glug in that I suddenly realize that nafta could just as easily be diesel as petrol...
Having decided not to share my thoughts with my colleagues, I'm growing increasingly relieved as the miles pass. 20 litres of fluorescent fuel now reside in the Countryman's tank, having cost us about a quid a litre - no more than the garages around these parts charge. I'm just hoping it's not 50 per cent water.