WhatMorocco Desert Challenge Day 6 Report
WhereMerzouga, Morocco
WhenThursday 18 April 2019

Hennie, Johann fight on through the desert

Hennie de Klerk and Johann Smalberger’s Moroccan Sahara dune adventure continued apace on Thursday as the duo fought back after Wednesday's dramas, shrugging off a few challenges to speed home to Merzouga sixth quickest. It was a day of high drama in the desert as the overall leaders crashed out and another leading crew’s bakkie caught fire among several other incidents.

“Today we ended sixth, just three seconds behind our SA cross country rivals, British crew Thomas Edward Bell and Patrick McMurren’s Nissan,” Hennie reported. “It was a long, hot and difficult day in the dunes with very soft sand, while being in the stage until after two in the afternoon made the going very slow and we also took it very easy nursing a broken shock absorber. 

“As much as we'd like to have pushed for a good stage finish, that would just be too dangerous with that damaged damper - we will see what we can do to fix it and if so we can then push, if not we will just push on to the finish on Saturday. “Our overall position is merely academic after our problems on Wednesday, but with leader van Loon crashing out, frontrunner Ourednicek’s bakkie catching fire and several other incidents on the day, we moved up from 36th to 28th today.”

De Klerk and Smalberger had enjoyed a brilliant run inside the overall car top ten throughout the Morocco Desert Challenge until the Amarok suffered a differential failure Wednesday and the crew lost over 20 hours. 

Friday’s penultimate stage sees crews racing 427km from Merzouga to Bouarfa. “Today is our final day in the dunes,” Johann Smalberger confirmed. “We start in Morocco’s highest dunes at Erg Chebbi before a mix of sandy paths, fast & technical tracks and then some fast WRC-like pistes in the afternoon."


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