I had problems from the second stage, and was complicated to go ahead every day. In stage 5 with Pierre Bloom, a teammate, we get at night to some big dunes just 30 km from the finish, but they were very difficult at the night and really we had to fight them. The problem was that we merged the two car batteries and we were standing with two buggies in the sand. For the satellite phone (the one from my partner, because mine had no battery despite having loaded in Buenos Aires before starting ... you will see why I mention it), we talked to our truck coming back, but it could not do the dunes and failed to reach where we were. Nearby was a pair of dump trucks, it was quite a spectacle.
We took the GPS point, and we walked with the two car batteries to the truck. There the we could charge them, and we slept until just the light of the day was coming again, then we could use the light to see the passage through the dunes, as if we came back to stay engaged, the battery (with the bright night lights that we had) , would die again.
Finally, on the morning of day 7 arrived safely to Biouvac. My partner said that would not go out again because he was feeling bad, he had a big pain in his back and did not see himself capable of making the next very hard stage. I did check the car quickly, I prepared the Road Book, ate a little and try to leave about the last of all cars and trucks. When I went out I saw that the GPS was blocked by the organization code that made me put the day before (in order not to cross with vehicles that left the stage 6). I went to unlock it with the organisation, but with all the things, I lost another hour. So, I went much later than anyone of the last cars and trucks. There were just a few trucks behind, among which, fortunately, our asistance truck.
Finally I started to move, and when I reached the first dunes, I found one pass that I could not climb where it was evident that most people raised in the race, he was a very long and vertical way through dunes, and the sand was triturated for all cars and trucks that had passed before. I detoured to find an alternate step, but it was complicating myself by dunes to try and find again the right way, and while looking at my road book, I got distracted for a moment, and went straight into a hole of sand, staying completely trapped . I won't be long explaining what it was the work to get the car out from there, because I was absolutely alone, away from the road, and did not pass or heard any other vehicle ... it was really complicated. It took me more than 2h30 to get out, and had to stop and rest a while under the car, because I felt that was near of a physical collapse from the heat, lack of sleep and not eating hardly anything in a lot of hours.
After a while of being stuck, I tried to call my assistance truck which should pass near some time later, in order to ask them to came to help me, but the satellite phone was not working (I had problems the day before, but I had reloaded it in the camp during the morning before leaving). During this interval I was also without power in the car, and I thought that it was again without battery, but now there was nothing of power and I thought that with the engine effort that I was demanding to the car to leave the trap where I was, it would be a blown fuse. I tested the fuses and I see one that was wrong. I had no spare fuse, but I made a bridge directly with a little electric cable.
However, when I got the buggy out there, i didn't really knew where I was or where to go, and I was aware that behind me there was not my truck for assistance any more. Then, with the intention to take some risc and forcing the speed to reach at least my truck, in order to do the stage together, I tried to find the right track. I made a lot of spinning by those dunes, and found traces in different directions, not knowing exactly if they were correct, as the Road Book didn't show me any coincidence, and the GPS did not indicate any particular way point (It is blocked by the organization and indicates only one way point from time to time).
I was really finish, and telling truth, overwhelmed. At 17h I had 450 km. very tough to go, without even being on the right track, and knowing that the slightest problem I would be in a delicate situation because no one on the back that could helpme . I went to a high point to stop a moment to think a little bit, and see if I could see something, and heard a motor noise not too far. Two bikes were circulating around, and I went to meet them. The two bikers were doing a tour there. They had no idea where it might be the correct rout of the Dakar, but they offered me to show me the way to a nearby road. I had to make a decision, and I gave up. I followed up that bikers to make sure that I would not be in severe problems and not lose the vehicle in the desert. From there I went easily to the starting point of the biouvac, and went to report that I was fine and out of the race. Just before doing so, I weighed in again the possibility to start the stage again, because there I know exactly where I was. But the truth is that I did not dare ... I looked impossible and too risky.
Normally I try not to give up over trifles. Obviously I do not know what would have happened if I had gone again on the stage. Maybe I would have gone well and would have an epic story with a happy ending, or maybe I had gotten into a serious problems. Doing adventures around the world, you never know where to draw the line, and often achieving success or not dependes precisely on knowing how to manage this balance. If I had given up to see things complicated, I could not have summited mols of the mountains I have done, or I could not have finished many Dakars. But this time I had to give up, and therefore it has been a failure. Now I have to asume it all, and try to learn as much as possible of what a bad ending can teach me.
Before finishing, I want to make clear that this abandonment has not been motivated at all by problems with the vehicle. The situation that has led me to be out of the race has been caused by an accumulation of circumstances, among which there are, as is evident from these hard races, some minor mechanical problems; but I have to be honest and admit that the reason for the key problems that I had to get to give up, are caused basically by my mistakes. It was me who strayed from the path, it was me who made my situation more difficult getting itno that sand hole, it was me who could not find the right path after all, and it was me who decided not to go ahead. Perhaps if the satellite phone I had worked, the car battery had not failed, and the GPS had not been blocked before leaving, all would have taken another direction, but in the end those are only added elements to my own mistakes. The Mc.Rae Buggy Pro-Dakar is a very good car, far more reliable and efficient than I could imagine, and spectacularly fun. Like most cars in this hard race, it does have some details to be improved to make it even better, but although I have had some unexpected problem, I can only speak well of it, or at least I do not want to puc excuses in the car for my bad result.
I especially thank all the Mc.Rae Pro-Dakar team members for his dedication, passion, performance and excellent treatment. I feel really sorry for them and the hard work they have done, for not being able to succeed.
Thank you all for following me, for your messages of support (I could read them almost every day), and I hope the next adventure will have a better finish. Now I will have to apply what I always say and have written on many occasions, that the only failure is not trying what you want ... but when you find the failure, at that moment, the truth is that it leaves you in very bad mood ...