Australian off road racer Andrew Houlihan has been classified as a finisher in the gruelling 2019 Pan Africa Rally, despite an incident on day 4 that badly damaged his Sherco 500 SEF and prevented him from competing on day 5.
The 6 day event was based in Merzouga, Morocco with competitors covering a total of over 1300km in special stages.
The tough terrain and intense heat took it’s toll on competitors. Defending champion Michael Metge was one of the high profile riders unable to complete the event, dropping out on day 4.
The motorcycle category was won by Portuguese rider Joaquim Rodrigues, Sebastian Souday from France has won the Quad category and rally veteran Gerard Farres took out the SSV category.
Read Andrew’s daily reports from the 2019 Pan Africa rally at RoadToDakar.com.au
Andrew Houlihan’s finish is even more impressive given the challenges he faced during the 6 day event. Navigation issues caused him to miss 2 waypoints on day 1, resulting in a 38 minute penalty.
A shortage of water in 50 degree heat on day 2 made riding through dunes up to 100 metres high tough going.
And the Stella tracking device on Andrew’s bike failed during the special stage on day 4 and needed to be replaced by race officials at one of the refuelling points.
But it was a jammed throttle while negotiating massive dunes that caused the crash that badly damaged the bike.
Andrew described the incident: “We were about 10 metres from the peak of the biggest dune and I went to back off the throttle but it had jammed. The other side of the dune was very steep and I landed about 20 metres down. The landing for me was soft, but for the bike it wasn’t so good.”
After a day out while the bike was repaired, Andrew managed to compete on the final day to be classified as a finisher.
Completing this rally is a major step on his journey to race in the Dakar in 2021.
Andrew’s story is also being told through a new website – RoadToDakar.com.au – that has all his latest news and background information. Updates are also available on his Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/RoadToDakar2021.
Andrew’s next event is the Rallye du Maroc (Rally of Morocco) that starts in Fes, Morocco on the 5th October.