Desire is still so strong for Dakar
With another extreme day in the books, Mohammed Al Balooshi, the only Emirati participating in Dakar Rally 2019 reached the half point of the competition and the well expected rest day in Arequipa, south of Peru.
On rest days, competitors are not allowed to receive assistance from their teams and have to live two full days basically on their own. This means they can only count on the almost zero spare parts and tools they can carry with them in their pockets, or in some small empty spaces the bike has near the frame, and with the mechanical knowledge each competitor has, they need to manage to do the basic maintenance to their motorcycles and prep for the next day of racing.
“It’s been two exhausting days, and so many riders, including factory guys, have been forced to retire, that I am happy to have endured all challenges so far, and to have completed this first half of the race with the bike in good shape,” said Al Balooshi.
“I had planned to race smartly, with my mind on the goal set at the beginning, which is to be able to finish my second Dakar and raise my country’s flag in front of the crowd in Lima next week, at the finish. This remains my objective, and I will do my best to accomplish this mission”.
With only fifty per cent of the race complete, one third of the motorcycle competitors have retired some with mechanical problems, and many with injuries. Also, only 19 cars remain in the competition, which speaks of how tough this 41st edition of Dakar Rally has been.
The rest day in Arequipa, city located 2,335 metres above sea level, will serve for the teams to work on the beat-up machines and prepare them for the second half, which is anticipated to be as intense as the first one, with the return to the higher temperatures and the oceans of sand and towering dunes of the Peruvian desert. Men will also use the day to recover from the intense previous days and set their strategies, this time setting their eyes on the finish line next Thursday 17th Jan in Lima.
After Kuwait’s Abdullah Al Shatti’s withdrawal due to mechanical problems, Al Balooshi is the only Arab still competing in this legendary race, in the motorcycle category.
“It makes me proud to be able to represent the UAE and the Arab world, I do it with responsibility and a lot of effort, and I will give my 100 per cent until the end. It is an honour for me to be able to show the world what are Emiratis made of,” closed Al Balooshi, with his mind already on the second half of the race.
Dune bashing: UAE rider Mohammed Al Balooshi remains in contention.