Dakar for Team Dome GB

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During a BMW Introduction of Off-Road Skills course, MCN took the time to chat with course instructors, and Team Dome GB Paris-Dakar racers Si Pavey and Nick Plumb.

MCN: Where do you get the Dakar bikes from?

Si Pavey: ” At the end of the year, we pick a school bike, strip the engine, replace the gaskets, alter the gearing and ship it off to the Dakar. We can even keep the original clutch, and with the extra fuel tanks it will still pull around 100mph on the sand.”

MCN: “Why do it?”

Pavey: “First time was a big dream. For anyone into off-roading, it’s the ultimate. I’d raced enduro and rallies around the world, and I always wanted to do it.”

Nick Plumb: “A dream that became reality.”

MCN: “How long does preparation take?”

Pavey: “All year. It is like a season of racing one one event. 18 days of racing back-to-back with a minimum of 12 hours each day. It compresses 11,000 miles into those few days.”

MCN: “How do you keep concentration for that long?”

Plumb: “Start singing to yourself. Then start swearing to yourself.”

Pavey: “Not singing, my voice is too bad for me to stand. The mental side is the toughest. You’ve never had enough to eat or drink, never enough sleep. It can go wrong in an instant, so it’s always 100% concentration.”

Plumb: ” You worry about food, navigation, cars catching you because we start first, and whether the bike will last.”

MCN: ” What’s the hardest part of the Dakar? Do you ever feel like giving up?”

Plumb: “Getting up in the morning! I always have a lay in at home, but for 18 days I have to be racing by dawn.”

Pavey: “Never. There are times when you think you don’t want to be here, but it passes, and never at the end of the stage. Think like that and you won’t make it.”

Plumb: “And if the bike hits the deck, it’s guaranteed something will bend. So much extra weight means the gears get bent, bars go, and then you have to finish the stage and rapir it all, usually yourself that same night.”

MCN: “And the best?”

Pavey: “The dunes. The big dunes of hard sand. Nice big feet-up slides. You can be coming down them sideways, and hitting 80/90mph across the sand. The Dakar does have a lot of slow, technical sections as well, but you don’t see that on TV.”

Plumb: “What about the second to last day?”

Pavey: ” A 400km stage seemed easy, but I got to a cliff and there were just huge rock steps heading down, and I thought it couldn’t be the right way. Then I saw the photographer perched halfway down them somehow.”

MCN: “What skills from the BMW course transfer to the Dakar?”

Pavey: “It’s exactly the same skills.”

Plumb: “It’s all about the basic skills and adapting them to go that much faster.”

Pavey: ” At the end of the day throttle, brakes and clutch are all the same, it’s just getting to the stage you don’t need to think about them. You have the same problems with ruts and grabbing the brakes at the wrong time. It’s really all about confidence and commitment.”

MCN: “How scary is it to crash”

Plumb: “When you crash an a rally you know about it.”

Pavey: ” It’s always on the rocky stuff, never on the sand.”

Plumb: ” If someone else has crashed it’s normally on a dodgy section and you know to slow down, so in some ways you’re just glad you get the warning.”

Pavey: ” I still remember the Italian guy who has literally just crashed and banged his head. He didn’t know where he was, or that he was still in the Dakar. Or landing on another bike that had already crashed over a dune, and being able to hear a car climbing up the side of it. When we had all eventually got out the of the way, we looked back and one of the bikes was still there. Shortly before a car landed on it.”

MCN: “How much does it cost”

Pavey: ” It was about £110,000 last year for two riders and a support car. We have loads of people to thank for support, particularly Dome Consulting Ltd, BMW GB, Castrol, HJC and Touratech, and loads of other people for equipment and support.”

Have Your say about the Dakar. Click here. And follow the links on the right to see if Pavey and Plumb managed to pass on any of their knowledge to www.motorcyclenews.com Products Editor Dan Thornton.

MCN Staff

By MCN Staff