Rallying: Engine swap has Pavey sweating

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The Independent Online
THE MORE difficult the Dakar Rally becomes the more Simon Pavey enjoys it. Just two kilometres into the 340-mile 11th stage to Nema, the engine of his British-made CCM motorbike gave a death rattle and seized.

"I eventually got a lift back to the bivouac with some American missionaries, found the spare engine after a struggle, then hired a pick-up to take me back to the bike," said Pavey, who proved his worth in last year's rally by finishing the leading non-factory supported rider.

Working in baking heat in six inches of soft sand, it took him six hours to swap engines with the help of a Tuareg boy named Jobe. "The exhaust was held on by a spare throttle cable," Pavey said, "but we got it going. My worry then was would the fuel truck still be there?"

By a fluke, it was. After that, "it was just 186 miles of empty desert, at night, with the bike falling to bits underneath me."

Pavey arrived at Nema at 2:30am exhausted but curiously fulfilled. Ahead lay the notoriously punishing 304-mile 12th stage to the beautiful Saharan oasis of Tichit. It would almost certainly be hell and, just as certainly, Pavey, despite being well behind the leaders, was expecting to love every minute.

The Frenchman Richard Sainct (BMW) is the overall leader with a total time of 45hr 4min 17sec. The highest placed Briton is the KTM-riding John Deacon, who is two and a half hours behind Sainct in eighth position. The rally ends on Sunday in Saint-Louis.