De­sire is still so strong for Dakar

Sport360 - - Motorsport -

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.

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