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Bikes and Truck at the Port Ready to be Shipped to Europe

It is hard to get texts and emails from Don and Natalie at the moment, since internet access is intermittent there at best. Also there is very tight security in the hotel due to a conference of South American Presidents.

However, the bikes, truck and equipment has all been delivered to the port for return to Europe. This was the first opportunity everyone got a chance to have a really good look at Don’s bike and they were all shocked at the extensiveness of the damage. It looks like Don was very lucky to walk away from that one…or to be knocked 20 feet down the slope of the dune is closer to the truth.

Don is So Grateful for Your Comments

Don called this morning at 8:30 to ask that I post the following:

I am deeply touched and very, very grateful to everyone who has taken the time to post the many wonderful comments on the website. Your kindness, care and concern have been a lifeline for me.

This has been the my hardest Dakar ever both physically and emotionally. Not only the sudden end to my own ride, but the death of the young Frenchman that I rode with for two days, has hit me very hard. I want you all to know that the fact that you are thinking of me and holding me in your thoughts has really helped me.

Don and Natalie and family are leaving Vina del Mar today, headed to La Serena hoping to join Simon and the crew there before the last day of rally. With luck they may make Copiapo which is on the third to last day before end of the rally in Santiago.

At this point, they are thinking they will be back in Duncan by the 27th or 28th. Natalie will be texting as they continue.

For those of you who missed the interview on Friday on CFAX, here is the interview broken into five parts.

Interview Part I (7 mins.)

Interview Part II (9.24 mins.)

Interview Part III (8:38 mins)

Interview Part IV (9:06 mins)

Interview V (0:45 secs)

Latest News from Chile via Natalie

Natalie ArrivesThank goodness the site is back up again after a catastrophic server crash on Friday!

Natalie left on Saturday for Toronto/Chile and she arrived there this morning. At the time of posting, she is having a little wine to refresh her parched throat!

Today is rest day today for Simon Pavey.  They have heard from his wife, Linley.  All is well on the Pavey team at this time . But it’s very hot and sweaty in the bivouac.

Don is pretty sure the team is planning to change engines today.  Apparently the truck Llewellyn and Linley were in had broken down.

We are not sure how Linley is getting around,  but Llewellyn is now riding with a couple of Polish guys following the rally.

Next Stop is Viña Del Mar on the central coast.

Try to tune in to CFAX 1070 AM this afternoon at 4:00. They will be interviewing both Don and Natalie.

Try to tune in to CFAX 1070 AM this afternoon at 4:00. They will be interviewing both Don and Natalie.

Deadly Dakar Accident Kills Two, Injures Seven

The Dakar carnage continues unabated. The injuries and accidents sustained by the riders are seldom if ever reported. However this accident is likely being reported internationally as it involves Peruvian citizens.

Don texted:

My concern about riding in the service truck was not unfounded.

On Wednesday evening 10 km before the Chilean border, one of the support trucks for the British “Race to Recovery” team was involved in a head on collision with a taxi. Two people were killed and seven have been critically injured, including the three guys on the truck. They had been in a group of support vehicles with us only two hours earlier. I am pretty devastated to hear of this they are all great guys.

The Race to Recovery guys are not dead but they are in critical condition. I have no information on their injuries.

The Race to Recovery Team is the subject of a TV series in the UK and are raising money for disabled soldiers. Each of the race vehicles had an amputee soldier in it.

The Race to Recovery Website reports:

On Wednesday, three other members of the Race2Recovery team, John Winskill, Justin Birchall and Lee Townsend were injured in a serious road traffic accident when the Land Rover Defender (a team support vehicle not a race vehicle) that they were travelling in was involved in a collision in which two Peruvian civilians died and left several others injured. Winskill, Birchall and Townsend were transferred to a local hospital close to the scene in Tacna, Peru, before being flown to a hospital in Lima, Peru for further tests and treatment. The three team members are described as stable and recovering well.

Their other vehicle has since been in another accident after hitting a ditch and rolling. Both people in the vehicle survived.

And another death:

As we write this, news of the death of another rider is just in. Apparently, he struck a police car during the Liaison section. Don rode with this man for two days. We are not reporting his name since his family may not yet know.

Don Headed to Santiago

Texted last night at 10:45

If the truck had been another 6 inches closer I would not be texting you right now…  It is 3 am here and I am in an airport somewhere in Chile trying to get a flight to Santiago

I am going to go to Santiago and have a shower a good nights rest a good meal and think of a new adventure to look forward to. And give away the Duncan flags I just found in my suitcase. I swear I have given away 2000 flags they were really popular.

I feel of course gutted to finally realize finishing the Dakar is not happening. At the same time proud that I finished the two toughest days of the Dakar. This was the last airport for about 7 days so I booked a flight and will meet up with our son. Otherwise all I had to look forward to was 1000s of of kilometers driving and that was not for me.

The thing about being a racer is that I am a lousy spectator not to mention that our team still has a rider in the event, the support truck is setup for the two support people the riders were never supposed to be in the truck with them meaning I was sitting on a coke crate between gas cans and spare is normal for the racer to leave the bivouac at the first opportunity to get out.

No it was a very dramatic moment. My bike was damaged and I did not know if I could continue. I did not want Natalie to worry because I knew she was tracking me and she would see I was not moving. I asked to borrow an officials telephone at that point I did not know there was a news crew near by.

Just boarding got to go into airplane mode… Talk to you later

This Video is a Must See- The End of the Rally for Don Hatton

The voice-overs are French, but enough of the English comes through the background. This is a very harsh video to watch as the French Camera Crew follows Don from right after the hit to the end of the ride.

You have not seen exhaustion like it and it gives a very clear picture of how brutal this rally truly is. The title says Stage Four, but that is an error. It was Stage Three as we all know.

Click here to see the End of Dakar for Don Hatton.

The video on the French TV website is entitled, “Anonymous Heroes.”

No kidding.

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.


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