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Don Hatton's Dakar Epiphany

Today, Don is feeling gutted. The few hours of sleep he got last night were spent having nightmares of falling off high dunes. He feels as if he has let his team down and worst of all, his family, friends and supporters. But I think you will disagree when you read what follows.

There he was in the middle of the dunes at 66Km, with his bike buried in the sand. It was still daylight. He had activated his sentinel beeper to warn oncoming traffic that there was a bike down and to avoid the area. A co driver in one of the big trucks had come over to help him dig out and that is when the other truck hit them.

He figured that had he been on the bike, he would be dead. The driver of the truck did not activate his own sentinel at 200 meters out to warn of his approach and did not pay heed to Don’s warning sentinel.

Don related that the fellow helping dig out had his arm ripped open, probably requiring many stitches. The bike was wrenched out of Don’s hands and he was knocked backwards. At this point spectators and a French television crew rushed over to make sure he was OK. They were shocked when he told them he was going to continue.

So continue he did…until 12 Km from the end when Natalie got the satellite call. Don was stuck in another dune, digging his bike out, tired, frustrated and dehydrated from an almost 12 hour day spent on the course in 40 degree weather.

He dug himself out and kept going without light or navigation and a badly damaged bike. At 4 kilometres from the end of the Special his bike gave up for good. He kept working on it for a few hours, changed the clutch in the dark, but nothing was working.

The medical people repeatedly begged him to give up, that there was no hope his bike was going to run, but Don refused, saying he could make it in. Eventually the ASO organizers told him that even if he could get the bike running and get through the last 4 kilometres he would not make his start time the next morning.

It was at 4 kilometres from the end of the Special that he was forced to admit defeat. Don said “There was no way I was going to quit…. I would have done anything to stay in the rally and finish that Special”

It was when he thought he was going to die in the desert last night, that he realized all that he has to lose- his life, his family, friends, business and his future. The loss of everything for what has now become a blood sport.

At this point he swears he will never ride another Dakar. The cars and trucks are not using their sentinels to warn riders of their approach. Competitors are being injured by others who want to win or place or finish at any cost. It has become like the Hunger Games, everyone for himself.

It has been said over the past few days in the bivouac that the Dakar Rally used to be mostly for amateurs with a few professionals. Now it is mostly professionals with a few amateurs. Lots and lots of huge money riding on a win. No one is enforcing the rules and we can only hope that team mate Simon Pavey will make it through safely.

We are so grateful that Don has survived, not unscathed, but not injured. And he is still our hero.

Please feel free to comment and send messages as we are in touch with him throughout the day.

Read the press release here.

Watch the video by the French Television Crew here. It says Stage Four, but that is an error, as don did not make it to Stage four.

End of the RALLY for Don!!

Just had a call from Paul Green … and …unfortunately it is the end of the rally for Don. The ASO medical car has picked Don up. Apparently he is physically ok. His bike sustained a lot of damage when he was hit by the truck, but he managed to piece it together and inch towards the end of the special. However, at approx. 4 kms from the end of the special he had insurmountable mechanical problems and was not able to get the bike running. Don is headed back to the biouvac with ASO at this moment. Can’t wait to talk to him to make sure he
is ok. Our last conversation was via someones satellite phone at about 5:20 pm(our time)- 12 kms from the end of the section and he was not in such good shape. He was having trouble talking and wasn’t making much sense. I was not sure at that point what was going to happen. He had been out on the course for close to 12 hours. He had no way of contacting anyone from his team and I’m sure mine was the only number he could remember to call on the sat phone.

Luckily, after trying to get ahold of Llel, Simon or Paul, I was able to contact Simon Pavey’s wife Linley who in turn got ahold of Simon and Paul. Simon and Paul went to ASO. ASO called Paris. Paris called Don on his iritrack. By this time it was dark, Don had no navigation, no lights and the bike was broken and buried.
He told ASO he was continuing on and did not need assistance. He managed to struggle to the 4km mark, but the bike just quit and he could not get it going. That is all I know at this point. I am sure Don is very disappointed!

Will keep you posted!

Thank you to all for your posts and words of encouragement to Don. They were very much appreciated.

..natalie

Don OK but Future in the Air

This from Paul Green:

Don is ok but now has mechanical issues. He is 4k from the end of the Special. He is fine, I’ve spoken to him and we are trying to come up with a plan. Don’t worry he is physically OK. He is with the ASO and a medical car is following him

Update - 12 km out

Don is attempting to finish the special!!! At this point, am not sure how. Apparently there is medical behind him on the course and there will be medical at the finish of the special. Have spoken with Simon who tells me that the 98 kms at the end of the special is road and can be done. They will be waiting in the biouvac for him to come in – will assess the bike then …nat

OMG Don is Hurt

Hit by a truck in the dark. Bike is broken. Navigation is broken. Stuck out in the dark. People are with him. He can barely talk. 12 kilometres from the end of the Special. He has somehow been able to muster along, now bike is buried in sand again.

Don Hatton Still making Slow and Steady Progress Toward WP6

Paul Green, the support truck driver has texted the following

“He is still making progress, slow but steady. Hopefully not long now before he comes out of the special stage. Then he has 96KM on the road which is easy going.”

He should be pulling into Way Point 6 soon.

Johnny Campbell from the USA, an excellent and experienced rider came in at 158, so Don is not the only one having a bad day.

Don Hatton at Way Point 5 in Stage 3

What a grueling day for us monitoring Don, it must be a real hell for him. It took forever for him to get to Way Point 4 (8 hours). And within one hour he had made it to Stage 5.

The team are anxiously awaiting him at the bivouac, but they know no more than we do. They suspect he is just taking it slow and steady. Also, the trucks will now be passing him, to add to the stress of the day.

They think it will be two more hours before he will make it to the end. Whew!

Stage Three and he is at Way Point 3 With the Worst to Come

Well, this is torture. In the last few minutes, Don has ridden in to Way Point 3, with the majority of the ride still to go, not to mention the 2000 foot downhill drop. But if I am reading the stats correctly, he is still ahead of 9 riders.
Stage 3 Route

Please continue to comment as he gets told every night about who is sending him well wishes!

Calls from all Over- Don Hatton is OK

Natalie has been receiving texts from everywhere wondering why he was stuck at Waypoint One for so long. He had a late start and we think he did not start until 9:00 am Peru time, as he was one of the last bikes to leave. He is now 157th. Still ahead lies the “big drop off” at Waypoint Four, and likely the cars have caught up to him.

If you have any insider information, please comment here.

Pisco to Nazca Stage Three for Don Hatton

Today’s route covers 243K on soil and sand, with very high dunes and punctuated in the middle by a very sudden and steep downhill at approximately 110k. After that, it is mostly a soil/sand mix. The link will show you the map and the configuration.

Just in from Natalie at 9:10 am, Don has apparently stopped for some reason, she got a text from a UK rider (how do they have time to text??) Anyway, breaking news as it comes