Profi Moto class: 130 kms – 30% dunes, 70% sand piste.
“Thank goodness for Mondo Sahara!”
Paul and Gabriel were clearly in a confident mood at the end of the first day, finishing comfortably in the top half of the Moto Profi class having avoided any penalties.
“It was absolutely brilliant” he grins “It was very very sandy, but really wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be – although I’m glad we did Mondo Sahara (three weeks riding in the Mauritanian desert), otherwise we’d have been in real trouble I think!”
“I came off quite a few times – flying over the bars, and got stuck numerous times too, but overall I think the cooler weather [this year] means thankfully the sand isn’t quite so soft.”
The first day of the Tuareg Rallye in Tunisia is notorious for throwing the Moto riders right in at the deep end – and therefore allows riders to change class without penalty should they feel.
“I’m so glad we chose to enter Profi” says Paul “I think we’d have felt short-changed at the end of the first lap if we’d thought that’s all there was today…”
Despite the prospect of riding double the distance required by the amateur competitors, Paul and his teammate Gabriel Bolton attacked the 2nd loop with confident enthusiasm; and together with overcoming Gabriel’s mechanical problem, actually managed to finish the second half of the stage faster than the first – crossing the line together with a total time of 5h 41m.
“The navigation was fine – and to be honest after the first lap, we realised there were so many [GPS] waypoints to guide us [in the open dune terrain] that it was more about sticking to the compass headings and following the GPS arrow, rather than the roadbook instructions.”
“Everything went really well, really smoothly, other than Gabe’s clutch problem of course – but fortunately we were able to pick our way through the dunes and get to the end with no penalties. “I had a small issue with my brake hose rubbing, but again an easy fix once the bikes were back with our support team [Desert Rose Racing] – while we could relax with a beer!” He grins.
Stage result: day 1/7: 29th (5h41m)
Overall position: day 1/7: 29th