I just got off the phone with Steve. They are packing up and getting ready to leave for Buenos Aires tonight. It is a sad situation, but there is nothing they can do about it now, and it seems like the team is just trying to make the best out of it. They have about a 2,000k drive back to Buenos Aires, but I think this drive will be a lot smoother than what the ASO had originally planned for them, which is good for Steve's tailbone.
Steve said he is in a lot of pain, but American racer Sue Mead gave him some painkillers earlier that are helping him out. He felt like he also was really dehydrated yesterday, so that made him feel even worse. Since they are going up to 190 kph at some points, it is taking so much focus and energy to just concentrate on what is happening that it drains you even if you are in perfect health. So needless to say, yesterday's stage was really rough on him.
Steve said he really wants to thank everyone for all of the support they have given them throughout this experience. This rally is not only physically demanding, but also emotionally, so knowing you have people behind you really makes a difference. He is looking forward to being able to share his stories when he gets home with you all. He hopes that everyone that is still in the rally stays safe and rides smart throughout the remaining stages. We are all going to be cheering the competitors on this weekend at the finish in Buenos Aires!
Of course right after I push submit on the last post Steve texts me! He said the Hummer is back together! He is going to try to call me before they leave. Today's stage is a loop that goes through all of the stuff they went through yesterday, which is not exciting. However, I heard that after today stages start to get better, so fingers, toes, eyes, and whatever else, are all crossed for easier stages in the upcoming days!
I received a text from Steve at about 9am my time this morning, which is 5am his time. He said that they were running ninth yesterday, until they flipped the hummer end over end. He said his tailbone and back are hurting pretty bad. His tailbone is possibly broken as of now. This is terrible for an off-road racer. Sitting in one position for eight or more hours is uncomfortable for anyone, doing that while flying through the rough desert is even worse, and going through that situation with a broken tailbone is painful to even think about. However, it is great to know that both members of 327 are safe after flipping their vehicle. While they were stuck in the dunes for six hours in the middle of the night, he said there were at least four other cars stuck just within his line of vision. Supposedly 80% of cars were still stuck in the dunes by nightfall.
They got towed into the bivouac by a French team, which they were very greatful for. One of the great things about the Dakar rally is that people are always willing to help out a man in need. There was a lot of, I'll dig you out, then you dig me out, going on in the dunes yesterday, and I'm sure that's how the majority of cars were able to finish.
On Planet Robby it was mentioned that 327 got into the bivouac at 230 in the morning there time. I'm not sure if this is true or not. It was possibly later based on the text I received. When they came into the bivouac, they had no clutch, and fuel issues. It looks like the mechanics had a busy night. Steve said when they got in they had to fight to get a start time today with the ASO, and ended up receiving one. I think the only thing standing between them and the start now is the condition of the Hummer. I tried to call Steve a little while ago, but got no answer. No cars have started today's stage as of now, so it is too early to tell if they are going to be running or not. Even if Steve misses his start time, he has until an hour after the last car leaves the start line to start, so that might buy them a little extra time. I am thinking positive about the situation! Hopefully Steve was able to visit the doctor to get some pain medicine for his tailbone and back to help him stay comfortable throughout the stage. If I hear anything I will let you all know!
The three different phases of the day are likely to give rise to difficulties that will have a knock on effect. The utmost care is therefore recommended for handling the subtleties of navigation at the start of the special stage. In the immense open spaces of Chile, the competitors will have to “jump” from valley to valley: landmarks are rare and it is easy to get confused. Making up any time lost will be a dangerous task on the old mine tracks in the middle of the day’s route. Most importantly, a long sandy zone is located at the end of the stage. It will require a very clear head, so it is better to tackle it by day-light rather than with headlights on."
Reading this can make any person a little nervous. There is nothing inviting about that description. However, I was very pleased to come home from work today and see that 327 was in 9th place through WP4! They held strong through the following Wps, hovering around 10th place, then had a little set back at WP8 and checked in in 15th place. (Not bad at all seeing as how 15th still would have been their best of any other day!) The end of the day was supposed to have a lot of sand, which they have experienced trouble with in earlier stages. Whether it be getting stuck in the dunes, or loosing alternators, the sand has not been 327's friend throughout the rally.
Currently I am waiting to watch them go through WP12, but it is not looking too good so far. A Planet Robby member just announced that of the 84 cars that started today, 62 of them are stuck in the dunes. Supposedly the last 20k of dunes throughout this stage are the worst. If I hear anything from Steve tonight, I will update the blog. Thanks for reading!