For me the most interesting part of the show was the Rally Raid stand. The guys had brought one of the 4x4 vehicles used in the Barcelona-Dakar rally.
Rally Raid provide support and technical services for the "privateers" in the rally. This means that they are the unsung heroes that keep the rally drivers on the road. It is quite amazing what goes on behind the scenes, a little like a swan gliding gracefully over the water whilst its legs are going like the clappers.
When I first saw the car I stuck my head in the window and said "Where is the GPS then?". They pointed to an empty holder and said it goes there. Now the holder was about the size of my hand so I was expecting some kind of super piece of kit with all sort of map displays etc. I asked them what mapping data they used and was told that they don't use maps at all. In fact the only navigational assistance used is a route card. This literally tells them to turn left at the third rock on the right. Scary stuff! The GPS only gives them a position read-out for emergencies. No spoken instructions like we get over here.
In the afternoon Martin gave a presentation in the main theatre. He described how the support teams work at the rally.
The support team consist of chase drivers and mechanics. The support vehicle is on the road for 10 hours a day following the racers. When they reach the end of the day's stage then the mechanics start to work. Again for about 10 hours through the night to prepare the racing equipment for the next day.
One story that caught my attention was that of Pedro. Pedro is a biker who had a coming together with a donkey. Unfortunately the donkey came off worse, but the front of the bike was wrecked. The RallyRaid team worked overnight and fitted a new front end to the bike. The next day he crashed and once again totaled the front of the bike. The guys rebuilt it overnight again to allow him to continue in the race.
These guys are heroes that provide the support and assistance to allow independent racers the opportunity to pit their talent against the big factory funded teams and compete with good results. Well done guys keep up the good work!!
You can keep up to date with RallyRaid on their website http://www.rallyraid.co.uk