Navigation day in the first stage of the Pharaons Rally

Navigation causes some problems

ONLY AFTER the first 100 kilometers through canyons and mountains the stage opened up. With a great view the route decended to the riverdelta of the Nile. ‘The beginning of the stage is tough because one mistake means you end up in the wrong canyon,’ organizer Abdelhamid Abouyoussef says. ‘The only solution is to go back all the way to a point that you know, and find the way from there. You cannot cut, the canyons are too steep.’

‘We took the wrong track,’ says Matthieu Baumel, Nassers’ co-driver, ‘We noticed the canyon was different from the roadbook and we decided to turn around. I don’t like to lose time like this!’ Nasser Al-Attiyah tried to find a route off piste but in the end the only option was to turn around and go back, with a fourth place as result. Nasser: ‘We lost some time but it is good to have some competition!’

Challenge for young inexperienced navigator

Wouter Rosegaar loved the stage today, navigating Erik van Loon in the Mini to a third place. It was a good challenge for this young and experienced navigator. ‘We had to find the route ourselves, I could not see anything in this terrain!’ Erik and Wouter choose the wrong canyon once, but found a way out. ‘I kept an eye on the bearing, as we were still going in the right direction I decided to keep going,’ Wouter explains. ‘Luckily we found the waypoint, I was very happy when the GPS showed it!’

‘We went off-piste to find the right track today, but I overlooked a hill!’ Tarek El Erian and Mohammed Etman flew with their buggy long enough to count the seconds. ‘After we landed everything seemed ok but we stopped for 5 minutes to check the car. I only lost some of the polyester, everything else was fine!’ Tarek has built his two-wheel drive buggy in Egypt, and is proud of it. ‘It’s the first time someone builts a car like this in Egypt. We finished it 3 months ago and had a good test in the El Gouna Rally. Now we are happy to be here amoung the top drivers!’

140521_pharaons_niels_4Yasier Saidan is here to win the T2 class with his Toyota Prado. ‘Last year we won the Worldchampionship in the T3 class, this year I want to be the fastest T2 driver. It is a big step from the Polaris to this car, I feel very comfortable in it. Still the stage today was hard for us, with all the rocks in the first bit. The temperaturre was so high I had to slow down the car, it was a tough day.’

Polish quaddriver Rafal Sonik leads the quads and raced together with a group of bikers, chasing each other between the rocks and on the sandy tracks in the second part of the stage. ‘The first time they overtook me, but then the first rider made a mistake in the roadbook. Then I was in the wrong valley, I went back to look for the track and they had me again. It was a very emotional stage and a great race!’

‘Finding the first waypoint was not easy, but I managed.’ Alfredo Procacci is with a group of Italian riders. ‘The view on the descent was just perfect, I love the landscape in this rally.’ In the second part of the stage Alfredo spend some time searching the right path through a big Oued. ‘I ride carefully so I have time to look and find the way. Maybe I will push more in the last days when everybody is tired.’

Wessel Bosman assists stranded rider

Wessel Bosman is happy with the attention he gets for his project. ‘Today I rode as carefull as possible. I am not a rider but an amateur and I try not to damage myself or the bike.’ Riding with time on your side means you can help others as well. ‘I met an Italian rider who had problems with the GPS and we rode to the finish together. The Pharaons Rally has a great atmosphere, it is good to be here.’

‘The most tricky part is to survive in the desert,’ says Stefano Chuissi, who started his career as a wild rider and is first in his class on the Pharaons. ‘First all I wanted was good results, the podium. Now I work to improve myself. Rallyraid for me is a fight with myself, raising the bar on each event. I accept my own pace and focus on myself instead of on the ranking. Look at today, at the start I was looking at other bikes, thinking I might fancy having a new one. But during the day I realized how lucky I already am to be here, as a competitor.’

Tomorrow is the longest day of the Pharaons Rally, with 362 kilometers of special stage and 273 kilometers of liaison to the first desert bivouac in Dakhla. ‘We go into an area called ‘No Mans Land’, which is a name I really like!’ Mahmud Nour el Din made the stages and is happy yto go into the desert again. ‘At the end of the stage we will have the first dunes, so be prepared!.

Tomorrow night we will report directly from the desert. Check for the rankings and be sure to visit for all your offroad-news!


author: ‘Niels Hatzmann, / Dutch Rally Press’