Houlihan’s Dakar Diary: Prologue

Andrew Houlihan

Australian Andrew Houlihan is competing in his first Dakar event. Speedcafe.com is proudly one of Houlihan’s sponsors and he will be filing a Dakar Daily Diary for us each day to give readers a real insight into the world’s toughest event.

An electrical glitch on Andrew’s bike has caused him to miss registering two waypoints during the prologue stage (Stage 0) of the 2021 Dakar Rally. He has been given a penalty which dropped him to 98th in the official standings.

Today’s diary entry

I went into the prologue feeling confident after a reasonable run in the shakedown yesterday, but at the start line the power supply to the navigation and tracking systems failed for a second and then came good again.

We’d found a few small issues during the shakedown and Jakob, my Swiss KTM mechanic, had done a great job setting the bike up last night. But we didn’t know about this one!

I started the stage and the power failed again, and this time it didn’t come back. I stopped briefly to check it out, but since the special stage was only 11km long and the track seemed easy to follow, I just kept going without the navigation systems and came in 74th in the initial results.

I missed registering two waypoints because of the power failure to the tracking device, and copped a penalty which dropped me almost 30 places.

At least we found it on a short stage and not tomorrow’s much longer stage.

All good now, problem fixed.

It’s a long race with over 4800 km of special stages to come over the next 12 days, so placings aren’t a major problem just now.

I was very surprised by the deepness of the sand around Jeddah; so far it’s been very similar riding conditions to what I’ve experienced in Australia.

Tomorrow’s Stage 1 will take us from Jeddah to Bisha. There’s a 311km liaison, 276km special stage with three checkpoints, and finally a 35km trip into the bivouac.

I start at 5:52am in the morning and they said to maybe expect snow tomorrow night!

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