12. July 2000, Ouarzazate to Erfoud
When we got up this morning and looked at the temperature we already measured 32°C at 8AM and around 1PM we measured 43°C in the shadow which translated to nearly 50°C inside the car! The Sahara desert in midsummer is no fun place to break down, so we carefully watched our cooling water temperature gauge. When the engine gets too hot, the fuel tends to evaporate before it reaches the engine which is called vapor lock. Our engine started stuttering going up a hill a few times because of this, but we managed to control it by reducing our speed a little. Arriving in Erfoud we decided to take a brief nap after the exhausting trip before we would start our test section in the afternoon.
Kaya still has a high fever from the food poisoning in Marrakech and therefore stays in Erfoud while Karl and Sami leave for the afternoon desert test section. At 5:30PM the sun has disappeared behind clouds of sand that were thrown up by strong afternoon winds. With low visibility we were wondering how we would be able to follow the complicated route instructions for the test. Arriving at Dar Kaoua the winds had calmed down already and we could see the endless dunes of sand in front of us that would make up the last test section of this rally. Shortly after starting the test it became clear that the routebook was useless and so we resorted to simply following the orange arrows that were put up for us. We got lost doing this not because there were too few arrows pointing the way, but because of too many arrows pointing in all sorts of directions. We lost 5 minutes due to this losing 12 minutes total.
After the test we had dinner in midst the dunes in a beduin tent. Formidable food and local music stole us away for a few hours. Getting to the tent proved a little difficult, since we got stuck in a sand dune. Trying to get out we instantly overheated the engine causing vapor lock. This meant waiting in the sun for half an hour for things to cool down.
Overall 2 hour 03 minutes penalty
Phillip Young alias Syd Stelvio organized this great (and first ever) rally around the world, making the impossible possible. Kevin from the US-Mercedes-Team: "Sand in my shoes? Where did that come from?". Some local running away with our last drinks, or could that be Paul from car 88 in Arabic disguise?