Breslau Rally 2013, Day 3

Today was a tough stage, in terms of terrain and in terms of navigation, but Sylvain and Gaby passed all the checkpoints. At one point, at a water crossing, the water was so deep that Gaby had to swim across to assess the best way to cross.

They arrived back in camp around 6pm, and the mechanics got to work soon after.

Bivouac Day 3 -3

There were a number of repairs to make, but first they had to find them.

Bivouac Day 3 -1


As usual, mud is a problem. In addition to the break pads, it had clogged up around the starter, which needed to be cleaned out. Water had seeped into the air filter as well as the fuel pressure regulator. This resulted in a number of problems and caused some electrical issues, all of which need to be corrected. The mounts for the shock absorbers on the rear were damaged, and need to be replaced. Finally, the rear window was broken out and the opening needs to be covered up.

BIvouac Day 3 -2

The mechanics still have a few hours of work to go, but everything should be ready in the morning. Tomorrow’s special is 205 km, and should be fast although there is another big water crossing. The Orga says it is too deep for the motorcycles and quads, but due to all the recent rain, it may also be too deep for the cars and trucks.

We’re still waiting for the results of today’s stage.

Breslau Rally 2013: Night Stage Results

A quick update from Drawsko Pomorskie with results of the night stage “Into The Dark”.

After starting in 15th position at 10:30pm, Sylvain and Gaby arrived at the finish at 00:30am, just behind the Defender of Team Gigglepin (James Marsden and Chris Abel), winner of the Prolog.

Leaderboard Sylvain

In the truck category, it was close, but the Svoboda Tatra team was the fastest during the night.

Leaderboard Trucks

The main challenge of “Into The Dark” was navigation, although there were a few tricky spots and a bit of mud.

Having been the fastest car on the night stage, Sylvain and Gaby are the overall leaders after the night stage and are starting now in the first position for stage 3, a special of 160km that begins about 6 km from the bivouac.

Now we wait for their return to the camp.


Breslau Rally 2013: Day 2, Night Stage

Following a short special this morning, we broke camp around 10:30am for the long drive to Drawsko Pomorskie, almost 500 km away.

We arrived around 7:30pm, with just enough time to set up camp, eat dinner and attend the briefing before the start of the night stage, which will be around 65 km long.

The iPhone photos are a bit grainy, but here are some of the best ones taken just a few hours ago.

Sylvain and Gaby get ready to head out,



Gilles Girousse,


The Svoboda Tatra,


Pierre and Corinne Malquion,



Breslau Rally 2013: Prolog

The Rallye started today with the Prolog at the Lausitzring (EuroSpeedway Lausitz). With all the recent rain, the track was slippery and the vehicles were quickly covered with mud.

We took some photos of the action, but we won’t be able to transfer them from the camera until we get home. The few pictures we took using the iPhone came out looking like double-exposures. The sky was so dark and the vehicles were moving so fast that the automatically calculated exposure times were too long.

Update July 1, 2013: This artifact seems to come from the HDR, we’ve turned it off for these types of shots.


Here are our guys, Sylvain and Gaby, in their Nissan Patrol V8 (car on the right),


Starting order for tomorrow’s special was determined by the results of the Prolog. They finished in 15th place, in part because the rear axle shaft broke during the race. They weren’t sure what had happened until the mechanics got to work once they’d returned to the bivouac after the Prolog.





We didn’t have a spare axle shaft, but fortunately, we brought a spare axle, so the mechanics were able to replace it during the afternoon.


However, the replacement axle is a different one, so the gear ratio is not the same as the front axle and the differential needs to be changed as well. The mechanics still have a few hours of work to do before the car is ready to go again.

Tomorrow is a liaison day as we go to the next camp in Poland. We’ll take the car on the trailer because tomorrow’s special is a night stage and doesn’t start until 10pm.

Breslau Rally 2013: Scrutineering

We arrived at the Breslau Rally bivouac around 3:00 am, so we took the liberty of sleeping in this morning. We’ll undoubtedly need the rest to get through the coming days.

We spent the day setting up camp, taking care of all the registration details and passing the technical control.



In between, we had had a chance to snap a few pictures of some of the trucks that will be competing in the race.



The Prolog starts tomorrow.

Breslau Rally 2013 Here We Come

We got off to an early start this morning to cover the 1,000 km to the start of the Breslau Rallye north of Dresden.

The Erg Racing Service truck is looking sharp loaded with about 3.5 tons of material, including the trailer and race car.


And that’s not all, some additional spare parts are being carried on a second trailer attached to a Toyota 4×4 sedan.

We had a few problems with the trailers, so we haven’t made good time. We still have about 200 km to go before we arrive at the bivouac. It looks like we’ll get there sometime in the wee hours of the morning.

Tomorrow the team will be completing registration and resting up for the Prolog on Saturday.

Erg Racing Service Truck Ready For Its First Rally

It will be a few more weeks before we make any official announcement, but we’re still working on preparations to compete in our first rally with the Tatra this fall.

In the meantime, we spent last weekend getting the Erg Racing service truck ready for its own debut providing support for the LM 4×4 Nissan Patrol in the 20th Breslau Rallye in Poland at the end of the week.

Most of the important modifications were made in February, so the work was mostly cosmetic and for comfort.

We did a little sanding to remove a few spots of rust from the cab and then repainted.


The masking took almost as much time as the painting did,



The paint on the cab was still in good condition, so to save time, we didn’t repaint everything, just the area we had sanded and the cargo.



The new multi-colored look fits in with the colors of our two other trucks, and once it’s covered with stickers the color difference won’t matter anyway.

Once the paint was dry, we bolted the tent on the roof rack,


and applied our own logo and web address.



We’ll be leaving out tomorrow to pick up the rest of the team and then heading off for Breslau. We’ll try to post regular updates about the race over the course of the week.

Let The Light Shine

Things seem quiet in the winter, but a lot more is going on behind the scenes than meets the eye.

The Tatra is still in pieces, but meanwhile the renovation of the Iveco Eurocargo is moving along slowly but surely. Last weekend we installed the electricity for the power tools and the interior and exterior lighting and took some photos of the new stowage rack and outside doors for rapid access to the stowed material.


We have enough room for sixteen trunks in the rack!


When we had finished the installation, we tried out the lighting on the first assistance for mobilette (moped) 47. It’s brighter than it looks in the photo, and we have enough spots that we’ll be able to light areas to work outside on three sides of the truck.


Now for a little coat of paint, some cleaning up and service and the Erg Racing service truck will be almost ready to go.

The Erg Racing Service Truck

The warm sunny skies of Morocco seem far away from the frozen scene outside the window. Last weekend, we went to pick up the new Erg Racing service truck in Châteauroux, braving the worst winter storm in France so far this year.

We were stuck for almost five hours on the Route Centre Europe Atlantique N79 between Mâcon and Moulins because of freezing rain. There was about a centimeter of ice on the roadway, and two trucks had jack-knifed several cars in front of us. With a third accident behind, we were trapped on the divided highway since there was no way to get out except to wait for the emergency responders to clear the scene. We spent almost as much time stopped on the road as we did driving.

We got to Châteauroux at a quarter to six in the morning and had time to sleep for about an hour before our rendezvous to pick up the truck.

It’s an Iveco Eurocargo 80E15 with a double cabin that has 7 places: driver + 6 passengers.


The truck is in good condition. Over the next few weeks we’ll have it serviced and furnish the interior of the hold with stowage for trunks, spare parts, and the other tools and equipment we’ll need for service during the rally. We’ll also install full lighting for the interior and exterior workspaces to facilitate working beside the truck at night in the bivouac.

We’ll post more information as the work progresses.

Tuareg Rally, Day 8: The Finish

When Stéphane called at 7:30 on Saturday morning, we were just 10 minutes away from the ferry station. They’d already debarked and were waiting for us in a parking area near the entrance so that Edouard could check over the Protruck before they headed out for the 110 km run to the Finish in Mojácar.

It didn’t take long. Everything was in order, and after an inspection of the hubs, everyone was ready to grab a coffee and breakfast before getting underway.

Across from the ferry station was a small unremarkable bar where a number of regulars had already arrived for coffee or whisky (at 8:00 am!). When we first got there, there weren’t too many people, but by the time we left, the place was packed with participants from the rally. Breakfast for two cost 5€ including coffee and toast with ham, tomatoes or tortilla (potato pancakes) and some of the best orange juice we’d ever tasted. Driving back to Switzerland the next day, we’d think of that orange juice as we drove alongside kilometers of orange groves and palm trees around Valencia in Spain. That orange juice tasted like a glass of sweet sunshine: no sugar needed!

Back at the ferry, some of the competitors were already taking to the road. There was no specific start time for leaving Alméria; the competitors had several hours to arrive at the start of the single Special of the day, through a gravel wash that lead from the mountains down to the beach just south of Mojácar. There they gathered for the parade to the Finish.

We set off early with the idea that we’d try to stop at the start of the last Special to get some photos, but when we saw the track from the road through the mountains on the way and realized how far from the Finish it was, we decided to press on, find a good place to park the truck and check into the hotel before the competitors arrived. We weren’t the only ones. Check-in took almost an hour at the hotel, because many of the teams had sent someone ahead with stacks of passports to collect the room keys for all the team members in advance.

We ate lunch on the sunny terrace of a pizzeria not far from the hotel and then headed back to wait for the parade. This time the wait wasn’t long.

Kris had the best seat in the house.

We watched from across the street as all the competitors passed, a few cars being towed by fellow participants.

There was a joyous celebration at the Finish line.

The Orga was efficient and had done their job to make sure the results were ready and the winners could be announced right away.

No one on the Swiss team received a prize, but the objectives had been achieved. Stéphane and Caro had been able to asses the performance of the Protruck in real race conditions, including the soft dues of the Sahara in addition to the dirt tracks where the truck excels in speed. WIth this experience, they’ll be able to make the right modifications to tune its performance to the terrain they expect to encounter in future events.

Florian and Yvan had successfully achieved their objectives. It was their first rally, and their first experience driving in the desert. Not only had they finished, but they’d had very few problems with the Jeep Cherokee they’d prepared themselves in the evenings after work. A very respectable performance, indeed.

This was our first time at the Tuareg Rally, too. Overall, we were impressed by the efficiency of the organization, although there were a few problems that might have been avoided: It was regrettable that the service teams had to take a different ferry than the competitors. We feel sure this wasn’t the organizer’s first choice, but it did have a non-negligible impact on the team. Also, in our opinion the facilities in Missor were not adequate to handle the number of people participating in the rally. Although the hotel did it’s best to accommodate everyone, the level of cleanliness and hygiene was definitely affected. Most of the other problems we noted were minor in comparison, and despite these few misgivings, we came away with a very positive image of this rally. Attention to safety was high, there were few injuries, and those accidents that did occur received rapid attention and assistance, which is after all the most important job of the Orga. They deserve a great deal of congratulations for everything that went off without a hitch, no small achievement for a rally of this size and complexity.

We’d definitely recommend this race to anyone looking for a challenging, affordable rally experience. The Tuareg Rally remains dedicated to amateurs, but the difficulty and the level of preparation is high, making it a serious alternative to some of the other races. Without the need to meet FIA regulations, or the attention of the big constructor-sponsored teams, the rally offers the serious amateur or aspiring professional a chance to participate on the same level as the more experienced teams.

We noticed a large number of competitors who were participating for their second, third or fourth time. We hope we’ll be able to join them again next year.

The Winning car.