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Recapitulating the rally El-Chott 2006

ImageImageSome time ago the 22nd edition of legendary desert marathon El-Chott was ended. We have started in this rally second time. There where two main reasons why we decided to go second time for the same rally.

First reason was that we wanted to proof that last years success was not a one time event and that we can compete against the best. The second reason was that we knew the rally and we knew that it was spectacular year before and very difficult. Also important was the fact that last year El-Chott was one of the words biggest rallies if we count the number of participants.

ImageThe first target was fully achieved. We have proven that we are achieving great results and that we are fit to compete with the best and achieve spectacular results in the greatest rallies on the word. But the word can not be all beautiful and the rally was little bit below our expectation. It was shorter by 700 km, and the root this year was easier than last year.

ImageProbably that was the organisers learning from last year when 26 teams have stayed overnight in dunes not being capable of completing the stage. I think that organizer has overreacted and the rally was too easy this year. There was also one element totally beyond anybody’s control which has turned the most difficult stage in Bir Aouine in to piece of cake. It was planned to be a stage of trough and I think that it is a proper description for a stage which was planned through dunes with height between 60 and 100 m. Unexpectedly during the night the whether has made a serious joke to us and we have seen a rain and a storm on the desert, but it was not a sand storm, it was a serious rain storm.

ImageNext day the dunes where wet and in stead of fighting with powder sand we where racing on pretty solid surface. The whole rally was easier, shorter and much faster than last year. Unfortunately it was not the best message for us because we have no chance to win with our old Toyota with purpose built light weight race cars. We where hoping for some extreme conditions because than the driving technique, navigation skills and reliability of the car the most important factors, at the same time those are our strengths, we have good technique, excellent navigation and the reliability is generally the strength of Toyota products. The purpose build race cars are very fast in good conditions but usually the have problems in extreme conditions with which we where not facet this year. Although our result makes us very happy, as we where the first car on the finish line with original full metal body and original engine. Even on very fast gravel stages the differences in time between us and purpose built racing cars was not as big as one can expect. In fact it was only on the day nine when after a failure of steering system during the stage we have lost fifth overall position which was ahead of two Polish Tomacat cars for which it was a last test before the soon coming Dakar. That result is a true proof of our capabilities.

ImageExcept of the difference in the root and the degree of difficulty this rally had one more great difference to last year. It was number of participants which have decreased significantly compared to last year. From one of the biggest rallies on the world it has decreased to a 25+ cars rally. That similar to most other medium desert rallies. The quality of organization was not as good as last year and the catering was the one biggest disaster and the true disaster of this rally. I really hope that organizer will improve the catering and will come back closer to what was in 2005. In general I would strongly recommend this rally to everyone who in interested in experiencing the true and ultimate desert challenge.

ImageI would like to take this chance to express thanks to all our supporters and sponsors but the very special thanks I would like to express to our service team.

Tomasz Lukasik