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Badawï Trail, Syd Stelvio | Day 12 Al Dhannah to Qsar Al Sarab – 330 KM

Badawï Trail, Syd Stelvio | Day 12 Al Dhannah to Qsar Al Sarab – 330 KM

Our first day in the UAE and the first chance to enjoy some competition for two days, time to reset your brain to regularity mode, focus on the road book and hope the malaise of two days of transit hasn’t blunted your brain. For those anxious to get stuck in, there wasn’t long to wait, with a desert TC section just 8 clicks from the hotel, on the other side of Al Dhannah, which had been our home for the night.

Al Dhannah is a strange sort of town, put there by the oil men and looking like a Gerry Anderson set, or perhaps the UAE’s answer to Milton Keynes. There were rows upon rows of shiny tower blocks, carports, and facilities, but a disproportionate number of people on the streets. It was impossible to tell if it was abandoned or if all of the people were just sheltering inside, out of the already blistering heat.

Social contemplation complete it was time to focus on the sand, and an STC that was quick, but arrowed. There was the threat of deep sand though, and a visual warning in the form of one of the organisation’s trucks, strategically positioned with tow rope ready, for the inevitable moment someone would bury their vehicle in the sand.

In fairness when the Vintage cars went through all went well, smashing their way through the deep stuff and carrying enough speed to escape the sand in spectacular fashion.

Problems began to occur when the classics came on the scene, although I’m not sure even the most pessimistic person amongst our ranks could have predicted the chaos that was about to ensue. One by one cars got stuck, first on the tricky exit back onto the road, and then on one of the sharper bends of the route. It got to a point where there were multiple casualties of the desert, all awaiting rescue, as more and more red trucks arrived on the scene to help the rescue effort. At one point the Hi-Lux’s even had to double header to pull car 21, the ’69 Merc 28 crewed by Yonca Yalaz + Cennet Senel out of the sand. It was hilarious, sweeps and trucks and cars going in all directions, as those assembled at the start peered over the dunes to get a better look at those who had suffered calamities.

It wasn’t just the deep sand that was playing havoc either, crews were managing to get lost in the sand, despite most of the course being clearly arrowed. One such victim of a navigational blunder was Garrick Staples, now on his own in the car after the loss of navigator Ralph Boyd, with their partnership reaching its bitter end. One pair that made great progress in the sand where Nigel Keen and Bruce Norris in the Rolls Royce. They would be the first to admit that they are not known for their pace, but they navigated the big Roller around the sand beautifully, and unlike others, when faced with a pile of stranded cars to circumnavigate they do so with little fuss, without even the slightest hint that they might get stuck, so bravo to them.

More motorways awaited us next, followed by a short regularity and then a touch more motorway before the last regularity of the day. It was to be an early finish for the crews, which I’m sure will be welcome after the length of the past few days and even the La France made it home with daylight to spare. We are deep in the dunes now, and the day’s final reg took the crews on a smooth tarmac road right into the heart of an area that has been used for filming everything from Dune to Star Wars. This competition section wasn’t the most taxing, and hopefully afforded everyone some time to have a look at the spectacular landscape, before having plenty of time to get settled and take in the sunset. In the competition, there has been little change at the top, hardly surprising after a gentle-ish day.

Tomorrow though, is a busier affair, with three competition sections on a 421 km route to Jebel Hafeet, the highest mountain in the UAE, where the final regularity of the day will be hosted. For anyone nursing car problems this will certainly be a test, for everyone else there is no doubt another fabulous day to look forward to.


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