The Race to Dakar team of Charley Boorman, Matt Hall and Simon Pavey had their first taste of riding and navigating on African soil today as the trio battled through stage three of the 2006 Euromilhões Dakar Rally from Nador to Er Rachidia, Morocco.
Following yesterday's seven-hour ferry crossing across the Mediterranean Ocean, the early hours of this morning saw the team set off on their BMW F650 GS machines and embark on the 672km journey which included a 314km special stage - the longest so far in the rally.
Charley said: "It has been a really long day. We started out at 2.30am and had to get through a 230km-liaison stage before the special. We've ridden across lots of fast and rocky trails that led on to wadis and there has been so much dust. Everything was ok for a while until the cars started streaming past us very fast. It was quite scary, but we finally got to the end without any major problems."
He added: "I'm tired and apprehensive about what tomorrow may bring, but at the same time really looking forward to it."
Five-times Dakar Rally competitor and BMW Motorrad's Off-Road Skills Course Chief Instructor, Simon Pavey, concluded: "I'm really pleased with how Charley is going. He set a good speed today and managed to stay out of trouble. He has really impressed me."
Charley now remains in 154th position with Simon Pavey in 155th and Matt Hall in 156th.
Australian competitor, Andy Caldecott, clocked the fastest special time today in 3:21:11 seconds. However, current Dakar Rally titleholder, Frenchman Cyril Despres, is back as overall leader of the motorcycle group.
Tomorrow will see the Race to Dakar team enter stage four of the 16-day marathon as they endeavour to ride 639km from Er Rachidia to Quarzazate.