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MadWaySouth have broken the 1,000km kite buggy record…

…and what a time they’ve been having.

They crossed the border from Morocco into Western Sahara on 10th August. Their main concern in this country are the landmines. The place is pitted with them. Less than 700km from the Mauritania border Geoff Wilson, a member of the Aussie team, had a close encounter with a mine field. Finding himself ahead of the pack, briefly, he decided to take a short cut off a road/track only to be shouted at by a passing landrover warning him “no ways, you go that way you’re a dead man…” They redirected him to a nearby town where he was able to get to the coast via a landmine free track. They will be relieved to be out of this country.

The terrain they have covered so far in their completed 1,000kms has been a mixed jumble of  dried out lake beds, salt lakes, sand dunes, rough rocks, and low shrubs to miles and miles and miles of dunes, killer rock fields, boulders, lava rock outcrops, cactus and shrubs.

The diversity has been a challenge to the two teams. There have been many breakdowns. Craig Hansen broke the goose neck on his buggy in two places after racing across incredibly tough terrain early on and the Spanish (Western) Sahara has taken its toll causing mortal damage to 3 of the stainless steel buggies. These buggies have been sent ahead to Dakhla with the support vehicles for welding, and the teams have converted the frames of the trailers into smaller buggies and have continued racing in these for the time being…

There has been one bad injury. Crossing a sharp lava outcrop, Steve Gurney, one of the New Zealanders, was airlifted about 10 ft and slammed into a lava rock – the side of his body and head taking the main impact.They had to cut his sunglasses off as they were embedded in his left eyebrow and were concerned about a neck injury as he was tending to lose consciousness. However, having ascertained that there were no major injuries he was able to walk the 1,000 ft back up to the plateau where the support vehicles were waiting. A bit of a clean-up and a few veterinary stitches later and they were able to take him to a nearby military hospital for a check-up.

He was kept in overnight for observation but the Aussie’s are suspicious that he bribed them to do that so that he could get a good and comfortable night’s sleep!

They are having a couple of rest days now to give him time to recover and then they will be off again…

The New Zealanders are still leading, but the Australians are not far behind…

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