Blood, sweat and cheers!
The 10 BFGoodrich tyre-fitters on-site were eager to get to grips with this legendary event, and they have certainly not been disappointed: the Dakar Rally is every bit as gruelling as they had anticipated – if not indeed more so!
“The first day was particularly draining, at 40°C in the shade with 90 percent humidity,” recalls Sébastien, the squad’s co-ordinator. “Two members of the team wound up in the bivouac’s medical centre suffering from dehydration, including Lucas – the youngest of the group – who also lost a tooth before the rally even got underway.”
“Haven’t I got the brightest smile in the bivouac?” joked 19-year-old Lucas. “The intense heat does not make for an easy working environment; we’re sweating buckets and, not only that, but it’s difficult to cool down again because it’s still 30°C at night. But that’s all part of the challenge of the Dakar!
“The sheer extent of the bivouac and all the logistics involved have been quite eye-opening, I must admit. It feels like we are lost in the middle of nowhere yet, on the contrary, we are in a large enclosed area on the outskirts of the city.”
“We began at a frenetic pace, replacing no fewer than 120 tyres on the opening day alone,” resumes Sébastien. “The heat made fitting and removing tyres more complicated than usual – particularly the large BFGoodrich Baja KDR2s used by the Peugeots – so we adapted our tyre-changing machine and now it is working better.”
The BFGoodrich Dakar Service Center closes down every night at around midnight. After a short night’s sleep underneath the canvas – curtailed by a rude awakening for those afraid of creepy-crawlies, like Michael and a stray grasshopper – the BFGoodrich tyre-fitters travel by bus and plane to reach the following bivouac. Their next job is to set everything up as soon as the workshop truck gets there in order to be ready for the arrival of competitors at the beginning of the afternoon.