The way things are shaking out, pretty much anyone who's managing to survive this year's Dakar is probably interesting, so I thought I'd start this thread where folks can post stories about drivers we never hear much about.

I'll admit it : I've been doing my best to follow #394, Annie Seel, the driver from Sweden and the only woman left in the race. Once you start falling towards the back of the pack, things only get worse for you, mainly because you often end up driving the last part of the race at night. She usually ends up getting in so late that both the Dutch site and Dakar have shut down for the day, so you never really know until the next morning if she has made it to the finish or not.

Here's her report from the end of stage 4 :

We have slept only 3 hours in the past 3 days! This is killing any car driver.

On stage 4 we arrived into bivouac at 5 in the morning. The start was late, so it was an evening race – a night ride to finish.

As there was so much trouble managing the car, because the power steering doesn’t work, big muscles are needed to make a 2 ton rally car turn. My arms are not strong enough to handle the steering wheel very quickly, so Paul and I have shared driving. I ride the easier parts and Paul the tracks with lots of fast turns.

We have had lots of technical mishaps, punctures etc. The wishbone has broken twice. We have spare parts, but so much to fix takes time.

Now there are not many cars still racing, and we are the last to arrive to finish every night/morning. All behind us are out there stuck in the tracks….

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I saw that. She said "The Dakar waits for no one" referring to the fact that like others in the back, they continued to have trouble making it to the bivouac each morning, in time to make needed repairs and then get to the starting line in time. That and on-going lack of sleep I think, which would wear anyone down after a while. Leaving earlier in the day with the leaders, and being able to finish in the daylight is a big advantage, and what with todays marathon stage, I suspect even more of the back markers will end up making their beds under the stars, and then trying to finish in the morning.

Coconut Car Racing Team

Stage Six. Before we start this post; Jenny, Darren and Garry would like to tell everyone that Geoff and Edouard are both fine.

After yesterday with the five issues and a finishing position of 47, Dakar being Dakar started The Coconut Car Racing Team in 67th position behind 18 trucks and 2 reseeded drivers. As if the 30 second starts were not bad enough Geoff was started at 15 seconds behind the vehicle in front which meant extreme dust and danger from the start. At way point one they came in at 37th position and were on their way to prove once again how well they can drive when disaster struck.

With no air-conditioning and a car that allowed copious amounts of dust inside, visibility behind a Kamez truck was next to nothing so when Edouard called a double danger Geoff know something was ahead the last thing he expected was a dry river bed with a 2 meter drop and a steep bank on the other side. Geoff left foot brakes when racing and says " the fact that the instant I saw what was ahead I could slam on the brakes probably meant I slowed our speed by 20 km/h when we launched off the track and slammed straight into the bank of a dry river bed on the other side and came to a dead stop. It was like hitting a brick wall"

Geoff's door would not open despite both men trying from both sides so Geoff had to climb, in agony, out the navigators door. The dead stop broke the L1 vertebrae in Geoff's back. Edouard is sore but fine.

After pushing the emergency signal a helicopter arrived and air evacuated Geoff to the Iquique bivouac where the fantastic medical team quickly assessed the situation. After an x-ray and a CAT scan Geoff was admitted to an Iquique clinic where he will spend the next four or five days flat on his back until he is stable enough to be fitted with a body brace to allow him to travel safely home.

Thank you to everyone for your support in our Dakar challenge this year. We will post again tomorrow with photos of the car and an update on Geoff but for now we hope you enjoy this photo of Geoff with his four nurses as he smiles for the camera - ever the all round great guy that he is - and manages to play up to the camera despite the pain and possibly the morphine!

Jaci - Nice information on the #331 Coconut Car team. I was sorry to hear about their accident, but glad to read about their team. The fact that they are a private team, but finished 11th overall in 2013 is really impressive.

One thing I found particularly interesting was this quote :

"After yesterday with the five issues and a finishing position of 47, Dakar being Dakar started The Coconut Car Racing Team in 67th position behind 18 trucks and 2 reseeded drivers."

So it seems if you finish far enough back in the pack, you don't really start in the position you finished in, but get mixed in with the start of the truck race instead ! Which means vehicles of all sorts are leaving at 15 second intervals rather than what I thought was a minimum interval of 30 seconds.

No wonder the back-markers have such struggles, and just the sort of accidents that took this team out.

I've become a big fan of rider Laia Sainz this year...she's one fast and very tough chick! Check her out!!!

Tom Coronel in the Suzuki buggy had another tough day yesterday. They rolled over in the dunes, were able to get back on their feet, but then died because of an electrical problem and had to spend yet another night in the desert. Electronics cleaned up this morning, and they finally made it to the bivouac for the rest day.

You keep hearing Robby talk about "just finishing" and survival is clearly becoming more and more of an issue for many teams in the race as the Dakar grinds on.

I also follow Matt Campbell, as he is Canadian like me.

Except he is now out.

Our national public broadcaster did an interview with him. It aired tonight.

Or, if you prefer reading

Or, if you want to see the crash (he's the second car)

I am glad he survived.

Hey Chris, fellow Canadian here. It was good to see him moving shortly after the crash. I'm sure he's going to be feeling that for a while, especially since he's not exactly a spring chicken anymore.

At least we still have Bensadoun & Beaule going strong in the 380. More competitive than ever.

he was in good spirits during the interview. I was really happy to hear him laugh and chuckle about the whole thing. I think he'll be back next year.. he had that fire and passion in his voice still.

and yep.. the 380 is still in it!! :D


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