Conquering Dakar – KickAss Sponsors Glen Brinkman at the Legendary Dakar Rally

Conquering Dakar – KickAss Sponsors Glen Brinkman at the Legendary Dakar Rally - KickAss Products

We love to power adventure, and we pride ourselves on being relentlessly KickAss! So we thought it’d be pretty awesome to sponsor champion rally car driver Glen Brinkman as he takes on the legendary Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia. Read on to hear what Glen has to say about the experience, and how KickAss helped him conquer the toughest terrain on earth.  

The Call of the Dakar 

While rallying in Australia has been a thrilling journey, I've always been drawn to new challenges. Dakar represents the pinnacle of off-road racing, and the idea was too enticing to resist. It's a test of endurance, skill, and adaptability that pushes teams to their limits, and that's what attracted me to take on Dakar. With KickAss as sponsors, our rally car looked incredible and I couldn’t wait to see it flying through the sand dunes.  

The Prologue Stage: Setting the Pace 

Entering the Dakar event, every decision matters, starting with the prologue stage. Our approach was to make no mistakes and set a time that was 'at our pace.' It's crucial not to be too fast, risking early overtakes, or too slow, leading to constant overtaking. We managed to find that balance, despite finishing 33rd in class. 

Into the Main Event: Surviving Stage 1 

Stage 1 marked the true beginning of the Dakar adventure. We finished 16th in class, sticking to our pace. Unfortunately a flat tire towards the end tested our resolve. Despite the challenges and the dust-filled chaos, overtaking other cars and feeling the adrenaline rush was an unforgettable experience. 

Overcoming Adversity: Broken Driveshafts and Missed Days 

The Dakar Rally is unforgiving. A ride height issue led to broken driveshafts, which meant we incurred a 24 hour penalty and were forced to sit out for a day. It was frustrating, but our mindset remained focused on finishing the rally. 

The Bivouac and the 48-Hour Chrono Stage 

The Dakar experience extends beyond normal rallying, encompassing the unique camaraderie and challenges of the 48-hour stage.  

The scale of the bivouac is just out of this world. It’s an area about 1km x 1km and has a main centre road with rows numbered 1 to 10. We were always allocated the same spot - row 8, lot 10, at each different bivouac. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think you were at the same place, but you’re actually 500km away from where you stayed last night. 

The food halls are enormous, and the food quality was excellent considering the masses of people being fed. It is a very social feeling at the bivouac. Outdoor areas are created for relaxing, bean bags, carpet lounges everywhere. We didn’t rough it too much! The coffee was not so great and the toilets can be hit and miss, but given the masses of people they’re dealing with, all in all it was excellent. 

The 48-hour stage proved to be an unforgettable experience, with vast dunes stretching as far as the eye could see. Despite the sense of remoteness, the constant buzz of cars and trucks added a unique energy to the landscape. We encountered a minor setback with belt issues and got bogged down after a momentary hesitation. However, a stroke of luck came our way in the form of Kris Meeke, an Irish driver who happened to be nearby after an accident. With his and others' assistance, we swiftly got back on track, minimising our time loss. 

This stage unfolded as quite an adventure, without any service assistance, culminating in our KickAss rally car arriving at the next camp by around 4:30 pm. This stage was divided into seven camps, each contingent on the distance covered in the 570km stretch. We were given essential supplies - a tent, sleeping bag, and ration pack - creating a unique camping experience under the vast desert sky. 

While the food and accommodations were adequate, the sleeping arrangements left much to be desired. The tapered cocoon-shaped sleeping bag, reminiscent of a cornetto ice cream, lacked a mattress, making for a rather uncomfortable night's rest. Sand may be soft to the touch, but it proved unforgiving when used as a bed. Needless to say, sleep was a luxury we couldn't afford that night. 

Upon completing the stage, our team embarked on an 800km transport journey with the car, while competitors enjoyed a chartered flight to the next bivouac for a well-deserved rest day. 

Tales from the Trail: Competitors, Trucks, and Stories 

There are countless stories to share from the Dakar experience, with something always unfolding on the rugged terrain. The presence of trucks adds a whole new dimension to the race and it's rare to find one that hasn't encountered a tip-over incident. Amid the intense competition,  we see familiar faces on a daily basis… sometimes overtaking them, other times being overtaken. However, what stood out the most was the camaraderie among teams and people. 

Helping one another out is not just an act of goodwill but also a strategic move, as you never know when you might be the one in need of assistance. The shared goal of reaching the finish line fosters a sense of unity and mutual support among everyone. Turning a challenging day into a positive one often comes from lending a helping hand to a fellow team - a rewarding aspect that adds depth to the Dakar experience. 

Navigating Challenges: Patience and Collaboration 

Fortunately, my navigator (co-driver) Dale Moscatt and I have shared a longstanding friendship and rivalry spanning almost three decades, allowing us to overcome any challenges that come our way. There's no need for tiptoeing around issues with close friends; if I make a mistake, Dale isn't shy about pointing it out, and vice versa. On the flip side, we also acknowledge and celebrate our successes together. 

Navigating Dakar is no small feat, and Dale's role as a navigator is undeniably more demanding than mine. While driving in Dakar may seem feasible for anyone, the reality is starkly different when it comes to navigation.  Dakar navigation is incredibly intricate, requiring experience gained only through participating in rally raid events. Without a seasoned co-driver like Dale, the frustration of navigating Dakar could easily overwhelm even the most seasoned driver. 

The Toughest Stage: Moonscape 

This stage stood out as the most challenging for me without a doubt. Unforgiving rocks seemed to appear out of nowhere, leaving me puzzled about their origins and our purpose in going over terrain like it. The organisers must have had a good amount of courage setting up this stage, knowing the challenges it would pose. Despite facing suspension failure on the left rear, once we confirmed it wouldn't worsen, we persevered. Enduring this mental and physical trial for an extended period required intense focus. However, it's essential to remember that Dakar isn't meant to be a walk in the park; its difficulty is part of its essence. 

Crossing the Finish Line: Triumph and Reflection 

A feeling of relief washed over me, although truth be told, I could have continued. With our car issues resolved, I felt a desire to tackle a few more stages. It was immensely satisfying to see the car, looking slick with its KickAss branding, perform well even after completing 12 stages, reaffirming that my initial goal was accomplished despite the early setbacks. 

Upon returning home, I didn't indulge in a beer right away due to quick connecting flights and the need for rest. However, Dale savoured a well-deserved beer in Dubai immediately upon landing. 

Retirement is not an Option: What Next? 

First and foremost, I've decided to step away from the Dakar. While the idea of returning is tempting, my primary motivation for participating was the experience itself, not the pursuit of a trophy. I achieved everything I set out to and more, making it a satisfying endeavour that I'm content to cross off my list. Moreover, the financial considerations also play a significant role; it’s an expensive event and the cumulative expenses can become substantial. This is part of the reason why KickAss’s sponsorship was so integral in getting me to getting me to Dakar.   

Looking ahead, my focus has shifted to revitalising the Cosworth this year and exploring new horizons with events like the Heartland rally and venturing to New Zealand for the Otago rally and other events. Of course, I'll continue participating in the familiar NSW and Qld rallies, along with selected appearances in the ARC with the WRX, ensuring a diverse and fulfilling motorsport journey ahead. 

Congratulations on your epic triumph Glen – completing the Dakar Rally was a truly KickAss achievement, and we were stoked to be there with you. We can’t wait to cheer you on in your future adventures!  

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