A flurry of memories

Dakar 2023 | Stage 4 | AL SALAMIYA > AL-HOFUF
January 4 th 2023 - 11:14 [GMT + 3]

The bivouac in Ha’il was disfigured by the rain that poured down yesterday. For the bikers who arrived feeling freezing cold, they had to look for solutions to warm up.

Tiredness, heat and dust are the usual things that riders and drivers on the Dakar come up against. They deal with it, they prepare for it and sometimes even start to enjoy it. However, cold and rain are a completely different kettle of fish, which chill the bones, soak the overalls and dampen the mood, to say the least. Yesterday afternoon, the downpour that fell on the region of Ha’il transformed the bivouac into a mud-bath. After the interruption of the special, the riders, drivers and crews journeyed in convoy, each with the heartfelt desire to find refuge somewhere warm. But the thing is the bikers participating in the Original by Motul category for unassisted bikers are unfamiliar with the cosseted comfort of motorhomes! These regulars for long days on their machines and repairing thei bikes are also experts at nights spent in a tent but camping in the rain is never ideal for recovering. Between two showers and trampling in the mud, good news came during the briefing by David Castera, when it was announced that the organisers would exceptionally be creating covered zones for the bikers who had strove to finish in the rain.

Several improvised dormitories therefore filled up with competitors, delighted to be able to dry off in suitable conditions and even to discuss this tough but, in the end, unforgettable day. Such was the case for Charan Moore, the leader in the Original by Motul category, for whom it will need more than rain to wipe the smile from beneath his moustache: “It’s like we’ve finished the Dakar in three days, it’s that hard. Last year, it was a walk in the park compared to this year. It’s not what we were expecting, but that’s just part of the race. In any case, it’s a moment that I won’t forget: on the link route the temperature was only 3°C and we were clinging onto our bikes. It was unique”. His countryman Stuart Gregory, who has taken part in all of the Saudi editions of the rally, is singing from the same Hymn sheet: “We started to see dark threatening clouds gathering during the special, which was then shortened. After that, for the 200 kilometres or more that it took to get here, I didn’t have a waterproof jacket and I think I’ve never been so cold in my life. It’s a great stroke of luck to be able to sleep somewhere warm”.

A more experienced member of the event, and even a pillar of the unassisted biker community, Simon Marčič has distinguished himself as an unequalled collector of mishaps on the Dakar. For him, the expedition between AlUla and Ha’il is among the tastiest of morsels in his collection: “I’m soaked and I’m cold. I’ve seen plenty of things during my nine Dakars, but I’ve never seen it that hellish in the desert, not even in Bolivia. Today, it was ‘’hell in Ha’il’’. In Bolivia, it was cold due to the altitude, but never like that”. In the Original by Motul category, it will be difficult to forget Ha’il!

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