James making final preparations before the trip overseas.
James in Lisbon before start of rally.
Elmer Symons - James' mechanic.
Click the image for a link to the Official Dakar website. Select the English version, then click on the Tracking Positions link at the top portion of the page to track in real time. Choose competitors by name or number.
James' mechanic Elmer will share this support vehicle with the Team Rally Pan America. http://www.rallypanam.com/
This will be quite an adventure for the support teams as well.
12/30/2005: I got a few emails from James' wife Jackie and sister Alicia with reports from the team's progress with bike prep and getting the bike through "scrutineering". I suppose this is something similar to what we call Tech Inspection to insure the vehicles meet safety and sponsorship requirements. At any rate, here's the news: James and Elmer have been working around the clock working on the bikes and last minute details in preparation for scrutineering and the start of the race; Kenny Hardee will be with James the first two stages, day 1 and 2 all the
12/31/2005-As of 7:53 A.M. this morning, James has covered 30 kilometers of the course. This is the liason or transport section of today's stage. The special section begins at 186 km and is 83 km long. Then he has another liason section of 101 km to the end. Total distance for the day is 370 km or 230 miles. Remember, a kilometer is equal to approximately .62 miles. A simple converter can be found at this URL: http://www.tdiclub.com/misc/conversions.html Or you can simply multiply the km by .61 to get the mileage.
12/31/2005 - 7:00 P.M. - James has finished the first stage in 1:53:37, 55:27 behind the first bike piloted by Cyril Despres (KTM) with a time of 58:10. James' comments on the section indicate that it was very muddy, wet and rutted. His finish places him in 227th place out of 232 riders that started the stage. Today's stage required no navigation in the special test section, more like a huge enduro special test. Tomorrow's stage of 236 miles will be much more challenging and the total mileage for the entire stage will be about 346 miles. He will start in Portugal and finish in Spain. On another note, several other Americans competing in the Dakar on bikes finished as follows: Andy Grider(KTM) 23rd, Chirs Blais(KTM) 31st; Team Rally PanAmerican - Jonah Street (KTM) 13th, Charlie Rauseo (KTM) 72nd, Mike Krynock (KTM) 89th. This team chose to use the KTM 525 converted to rally trim instead of the tried and proven 660 rally bike. Time will tell if the choice was a wise one. The Harley powered sidecar team of Whitney and McDowell finished the first stage at position 213 . REMEMBER, tomorrow 01/01/06 the highlights will be shown on OLN at 4:00 P.M. (Entire Schedule here: Dakar on TV ) For those of us that have JJE/SSC Team Racing Shirts, be sure to wear them each day possible to show support for James. Stay tuned for more info as available. Also, thanks to Jackie, Alicia and others for updating me with information!
01/01/2006 - 7:50 A.M. - At this time the iritrack system indicates that James has completed only about 5.5 miles , but the system seems to be behind the rider's progress somewhat. Today's stage is 237 miles total with a special test of 70 miles. The stage is described by the organizers as a fast and mountainous track not unlike the Pikes Peak climb in Colorado. Portugal native rider Ruben Faria was first today with a time of 1:37:07. More news to come later today. 9:45 A.M. The results now show that James has finished in position 153 with a time of 2:06:18. ONLY 29:11 behind the winner. A considerably improved position over yesterday in today's longer special test. This moves his overall position up to 205. Also, corrected scoring for yesterday's first stage improve his finish from 227 to 218 out of 232 riders that started the stage. More news as it becomes available. Don't forget to check out the TV coverage today at 4:00 P.M. on OLN!
01/02/2006 - 10:00 A.M. - James has finished his third stage today in position 118 in a time of 4:38:09 only 1:16:58 behind the first finisher. This improves his overall standing to 143, an improvement of 62 positions from yesterday. Today's stage included a special section of 191 miles within a total stage of 410 miles. Today's stage was a much more difficult stage in terms of navigation and terrain in the special stage, described by the organization as consisting of wadis ?? see definition for information on wadis. Seems like it could be dry river beds or oaisis. More info to come when I receive word from Jackie. Remember OLN TV coverage again today at 4:00 P.M. ALSO, if anyone finds more information or links to pictures or reports from the rally, please let me know if you would like for it to be posted here or shared with those on the mailing list. I am updating the mailing list daily as new requests are received. Another rally website I have found with some info and pictures can be found here Marathonrally . Still no pictures of James yet, but I know he will be seen soon.
Other Americans competing had much improved results today too. Andy Grider is currently shown as having finished 2nd only 3:04 behind first; Chris Blais finished 9th 6:55 behind; and Robby Gordon in the Hummer H3 has finished in 5th place today just 1:30 behind the first place finisher.
01/03/2006 - 11:45 A.M. --- Amazing news today from the rally. ---- According to current standings for today's stage, James has finished at position 37 with a time of 5:31:32 just 1:18:31 behind the first place finisher. This moves him into the overall position 90 with a total time for all stages so far of 14:09:36, 3:51:39 behind the leader! Today's stage special test was 235 miles and a total miles of 390 including the liasons. See more news and a new photo album on the SSC website at Dakar-SSC-2006 I have managed to obtain some photos of the pre-race preparations and european stages. Hopefully more will follow. Thanks to the NomadsMotorcycle ClubPortugal for pre-race assistance and posting the pictures of the first two stages.
01/04/2006 - 11:00 A.M. - James continues to impress and improve with each stage. Today's stage consisted of 213 miles in the special test, with 500 miles overall. His finishing position for this stage was 44, 1:21:32 behind the first finisher. This moves him into 65th overall for the rally. Kevin Heath finished 45th just 10 seconds behind James and moves into postion 84 for the rally. James has moved up 162 positions since the first stage and is becoming more comfortable on the bike and with the terrain. Elmer, his mechanic, has been making changes to the setup and has improved the handling a lot.
01/04/2006 - 5:00 P.M. - Word just came in from Alicia (James' sister) from a conversation Jackie had with James today. "Jackie just heard from James and here are his descriptions of stage 5: This section was extremely rocky and therefore, quite dangerous. He said he had never ridden in such rocky conditions. The 450's passed quickly because they could maneauvor better than the bigger bikes. It was a beautiful ride. Through the faster section there were 5-7 foot drop offs. Thought he would crach a few times but DID NOT! Yea! James said Elmer is doing a great job for him....Each time he comes into the bivaouc his tent is set up and food is laid out for him, then Elmer goes to work on the bike. He sends his thanks to all who are tracking his progress and he appreciates your prayers for he and Elmer. I would imagine this section really took it out of James for having to concentrate so much on the rocks and dangerous drop offs. Please continue to keep him in your prayers. Not sure what his starting time is for Stage 6. We'll find out a little later and let you know."
Here's a link to a Dakar Dictionary with explanations of some of the terms used in coverage of this event. Very helpful for us Dakar noobs!
01/05/2006 - 16:00 hours - James again helps himself out with a considerable improvement in his overall standing, now 53rd overall. Today his 28th place finish is remarkable given the reported difficulty of this special stage. With the first bikes leaving on the liason at 1:40 in the morning their time, and having to travel 205 miles just to get to the special test. The special test was 271 miles with widely varying terrain beginning with wide fast tracks, then changing to more sandy technical tracks with washouts, holes, etc. An excerpt of James' conversation with his sister Alicia shows a more accurate assessment of the stage: "Beginning of course was very technical, however, lots of wide open areas, he got tired of holding the throttle wide open. He had fun
01/06/2006 - 8:30 A.M. - The starting order for the bikes was reversed today, so James started at 7:56 A.M. in position 144 and his friend Kevin Heath started four minutes ahead in position 128. Kevin had a fall today and reportedly has broken his arm. James stayed with him for a while unitl other help arrived. James arrived at checkpoint one, a gas stop at 12:31 P.M. and is currently between CP1 and CP 2. This stage was reported to be very difficult with most of the stage in the special test section. Navigational skills will be tested and again the terrain will vary widely from dunes, to stony plateaus, to camel grass sections. Several cars have already gotten lost and lost time. Only about 13.5 miles of this stage is liason. The special section is 305 miles long. Stay tuned for James' finishing position later today. UPDATE: 14:05 P.M. our time - For the latest on Kevin Heath, go to his home page at:
The Dakar website now shows James as finishing in 67th position with a time of 8:57:46. This moves him into the overall of 57th place. Now he has a rest day tomorrow and will resume with Stage 9 on Monday January 9. Nouakchott to Kiffa. Stay tuned. Tonight's standings on the Dakar website show James standings have improved. He finished 36th in the stage and has moved up to 48th position overall even with a 15 minute penalty imposed.
01/08/06 - I received a voice mail from James today and he called several members of the club today. He was in great spirits and expressed his appreciation for all the prayers and support being given. Audio file linked here: Audio He is still positioned as the third American in the bike category, an enormous feat given that this is his first time there! The stage he will face tomorrow will probably be the most difficult of the entire rally, so keep James in your prayers and check back for more information. We did find a link to a commercial photographer who is offering photos for sale on the internet. The URL for the site is: http://www.maindruphoto.com/maindruweb/2048/index_flash.asp You will have to choose the event and enter James number (132) to see the thumbnails of the photographs.
01/09/06 - 8:00 P.M. - If any of you have been checking the Dakar website today, you already know that tragedy struck for one of James' fellow competitors. Andy Caldecott, 41, PHOTO of the KTM Repsol team crashed and was killed instantly today in Stage 9. Today also saw the retirement of Isidre Esteve, who was taken to hospital in Nouakchott following an accident. As you may know this is the same stage that last year claimed the life of Fabrizio Meoni. No special timed section for the bikers tomorrow". The stage planned on January the 10th between Kiffa and Kayes will be covered in liaison from start to finish for the bike race."
James' finishing position is listed currently as 102 for the stage. His time is the same as all competitors in the bike category from position 87 through 119 (18:00:00). His overall position now stands at 76, with 1:15 penalty. James called Jackie a few minutes and let her know he was alright, but STILL on the course. He should finish soon in what is probably only a transport section to the end. He had spent quite a bit of time assisting another rider (#120) with mechanical issues and they are riding out together. Quite a long day for him since he started at about 7:40 a.m. his time. They are five hours ahead of us now. Keep James, his family, and all the competitors in your prayers. I am back at work this week and updates will be later in the day than they have been up to this point, but I'll keep leaving updates here when I get them. Regards, Ben
01/10/2006 - 9:00 P.M. - I received an email today from James' sister Alicia with details from a conversation Jackie had with James concerning his finish of Stage 9 and Stage 10:
"Jackie finally had conversation with James today regarding stage 9.
Tomorrow's Stage will consist of a special test of 141 miles within a total of 430 miles. Description of the stage: "the caravan progresses through a sumptuous setting, with a continuous sequence of forests and savannas. As the tracks are narrow, extreme care is recommended in the eventuality of any navigational error requiring a u-turn." Hopefully the dunes are behind them for the most part and James can ride in a more familiar setting.
No standings posted yet for Stage 10, and I don't know how they will score the bikes in that stage anyway. Standings as of the end of Stage 9 are below. Still an amazing accomplishment!
01/11/06 - today James did not give much description of his ride other than
Stage 12, Jan. 12, 2006
Don't forget about the link mentioned a few days ago to pictures of James posted on the web. This site www.maindruphoto.com has new photos each day. They are only thumbnails but they give you an idea of the type of terrain James is traveling through each day. Stay Tuned.
01/13/2006 - James called me today around 1:00 p.m. our time. He seemed to be in good spirits and ready to continue to the last two stages. James said that today's course was very
Tomorrow James will arrive in Dakar. The stage is described as follows: "Along the Senegalese tracks, co-drivers will once again be on call. The special is longer than last year’s and numerous changes in direction might lead those who are not focused up the wrong road. In other words, there are still minutes up for grabs or which can be lost. After an attractive liaison stretch, entry into Dakar will take in a tranquil tour of Senegalese villages."
01/14/2006 - 8:29 A.M. - JAMES HAS FINISHED 11th IN STAGE 14! While most of the favorites had navigation difficulties today, James said that he had no trouble following the road book. Just like a roll chart we use in enduros, the road book indicates the turns and landmarks that must be followed. James said that this stage reminded him of the Capitol City enduro at Tallahassee Fl, and the stage was easy for him. At present, his overall standing is at position 56.
James is on his way home! James' actual arrival time into Atlanta with Air France (Flight
JAMES IS BACK!
We were all glad to see James and Elmer return!
The Victory Celebration for January 21st has to be re-scheduled. I'll post the new date and time when it is planned.
FLASH - There is a new member of the Embro Family. An eight pound baby girl! CONGRATULATIONS James and Jackie.