Of tumbles and somersaults

January 13 th 2020 - 06:06 [GMT + 3]

Gérard Tramoni did a somersault after misjudging a dune, forcing him to finish stage 7 peering at the track through a cracked windscreen.

Gérard Tramoni struggles to remove his helmet as he slides out of his bucket seat to inflate the tyres of his Land Rover at the end of stage 7. "I got a stiff neck from leaning over to look at the track between the cracks on my windscreen", explains the driver from Corsica. Even his exhaustion cannot wipe the smile from his face or dampen his enthusiasm as he cracks jokes with the race officials at the ASS. "It was a wonderful special nonetheless, fast and with somewhat technical dunes… Unfortunately, we lost a lot of time in the first half hour. I messed up and we set off with under-inflated tyres. As a result, we did a somersault on a small dune. The front part of our car got stuck, so we were left precariously hanging for quite a while." Co-driver Dominique Totain continues: "Thank goodness we'd just started and had 375 litres of petrol on board. We climbed on the roof and our weight and inertia made the car tumble forward and back onto its wheels." The car emerged from its acrobatics without a scratch, apart from a cracked windscreen that spoiled the hundreds of kilometres left in the stage for crew no. 346. Not that Gérard Tramoni is complaining. "We could have already been out of the race a week ago, we were lucky to be allowed to continue under Dakar Experience rules after stage 2", he says. "In other circumstances, we would've already been on our way home." The stage between Al Wajh and Neom is where it could have ended for the two men from southern France. "We hit a rock and broke our sump", recounts Tramoni. "Our engine seized up and we must have gone to about a hundred scrapyards in Tabuk before we found a spare. It already had 300,000 km under its belt, but we mixed it up with pieces from our prepared engine and it works like a charm. We've only got 180 horsepower, but we continue to move forward." Gérard only had to change a windscreen yesterday evening; just a trifle for this anaesthesiologist competing in his fourth Dakar.

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