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Lessons from a Morocco Desert Challenge rookie


In 2018 Herman participated for the very first time in the Morocco Desert Challenge with his navigator Marnix. Now he is looking back on his experiences of last year and talking about his goals for this year’s edition.

Read on to see what Herman learned from the first time and what he is doing this year.

Participating in a rally for the first time

Participating in the Morocco Desert Challenge was unbelievably fun to do. It was not as intense as I had expected, I was more prepared for some kind of triathlon. We might have been lucky as well, I’m not sure about that. We didn’t have any breakdowns or accidents and the navigating went really well.

The hard parts…

The toughest part of the rally are the dunes, especially the high ones. It is extremely hard to do those right straight away. And it’s also quite difficult to do what Marnix is saying.

…and the fun!

The beauty of the rally is that you’re sometimes completely alone. So you’re driving and there’s no one in front of you or behind you. There you are…and that’s that! It was really nice to do something like that with just the two us. You’re really dependent on each other. It’s not that the driver is more important than the navigator or the other way around and that’s what’s making it really fun.

Lessons from the first time

What I learnt most from last year is what it’s like to participate in a event like this. And that’s actually quite a lot; what it’s like driving in the sand, driving for such a long time, and how it’s like to drive with a navigator. And also not to go full throttle even though you’re driving competitively.

Strategy for the Morocco Desert Challenge 2019

Last year went a bit too well, so we don’t have major changes for our strategy for this year. Of course not everything went perfect, especially in the beginning when you still have to get used to the navigating and responding to this. I think that this will go better this year because we now have a different way of navigating. We now have a Cap Repeater which will make it easier to find the route if we have made a mistake.

Winning or enjoying the ride

There are 62 SSVs in the race and there are quite a few of them who can drive really good. Racing in SSVs is really something for the French and the French national champion is also participating. So there are definitely some people who can drive better than me, and some navigators who have more experience than Marnix. So the chances of winning are zero. So what Marnix and I agreed on is that we’re not going to win, which changes your mindset completely. When you say that you want to finish in a high position, you’re going to increase the tension and that’s killing the fun part of it which is something we don’t want to do. We just want to finish the stages as fast as possible in our own way.

From a rally in Africa to a rally in Asia

We would like to participate in another rally in the future, one option is the Silkway Rally. This is a rally in Asia which appears to be very nice. But it’s twice as long as the Morocco Desert Challenge so it’s quite a long time from home. So it has to fit within our schedules.

Preparing for the rally

In order to prepare we are trying to drive as much as possible, either drifting or driving on the track. But at least to maintain that ‘car feeling’. Besides this I try to be fit and to keep an eye on my nutrition.

The #1 tip for beginners

Slow down. It’s so much fun to go really fast but give each other first some time to get used to each other and this game. Just make sure you can finish. It’s much more fun than to break something because you made some stupid mistake. Of course it can still happen that your car breaks down or that you get lost but that can actually be quite fun! Perhaps you have to spend a night in the desert so be prepared for this. It can happen that when you have car trouble around 4 p.m. that you won’t be picked up until 4 a.m. And that’s a long wait.

 

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