El Badr grafts today to flourish tomorrow
January 13 th 2020 - 06:39 [GMT + 3]
The youngest Saudi competitor taking part in the Dakar has already learned a lot on an event he is discovering. Talal El Badr is capable of putting up with irritations and disappointments with a smile and understands first and foremost that he is just at the beginning of his passion for SSV racing.
Talal El Badr used to be the type of person who would ride through Europe on a bicycle, notable breaking his collar bone on the way. Just as reckless on skis, he inflicted the same result on his right leg less than two years ago in a French ski resort. Beforehand, he was capable, though nobody would have bet a single riyal on him in light of his silhouette, of snatching and jerking 160 kilos during his period as a weightlifter. Yet, after all this flitting about, he decided to settle on a sport in which he really wanted to blossom: rallies, in the desert. “When I was younger, I was really into cars and I was fascinated by pictures of the Porsche 959s that raced on the Dakar in the 1980’s,” explains the young man with a student’s appearance. “I remember that I had a bucket list which included sailing round the world, several other challenges that I haven’t achieved either and… the Dakar”. Even though the tale of his adventures is almost a caricature of a wild teenager, he is actually an especially organised and mature young man, who, at the age of 16 years, was capable of setting up his own clothing company alongside his sister and cousin: “It was especially for a bit of fun, making T-shirts for student friends. But then business just started booming. That’s how I was able to buy my own 4x4 and take part in my first rallies”.
This story is fairly recent and the driver only has one year of competition on the Saudi Arabian scene under his belt. Nevertheless, he decided to take part in the Dakar with the wise approach of a debutant participating in order to learn. For his baptism of fire, Talal has not been spared by strokes of bad luck: “I discovered the SSV that I’ve hired when I arrived on the rally. I’d never driven this type of vehicle before. It’s much more fun than a 4x4 and I love the agility of these light buggies. That said, I don’t know its limits, I’ve not got a great command of its braking and I’m learning how to drive it each day”. Precisely, his problems started on the link stage on the way to the first special and the list of mishaps increased the next day and the day after: broken turbo, an impact with a rock, loss of oil, etc. During the 5th stage, the apprentice was forced to drop out of the race, but was keen to continue the pleasure of participating via the Dakar Experience formula. “I’ve always kept calm and in the end I’m not sad about what’s happened. It’s been an exceptional experience so far and I have all the time in the world to make a name for myself on the Dakar”. Such patience is starting to bear fruit: Talal El Badr and his Emirati co-pilot Ali Mirza managed to finish the seventh stage without the slightest setback!