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Post Rally report from Don Hatton on the 2010 Sardinia Rally Race

Here's the latest report from BC native, Don Hatton and his rallying exploits in Sardegna:

Press Release

I am excited to have finished the Sardegna Rally as a member of Cyril Despres’s team !!!

This was by far the most difficult rally I have done in terms of navigation and terrain. It was a strange feeling to not to have to deal with heat and sand for a change.

I was very happy with my navigation during the rally, I made very few navigation errors, on the other hand I was a little disappointed in my speed, I did not place as high as I felt I was capable, I think was intimidated by the cliffs and the possibility of falling off one.

The course was very, very technical, we rode a lot of single track primarily on old donkey trails over the mountains of Sardegna, combined with high speed fire road, and off piste sections.

Very different from rallies I had done in the past, this was more like an ISDT or world enduro, in fact for three of the days of the rally the Italian National pro enduro championship was run in conjunction with our rally The terrain consisted of rocky ground, loose gravel, off camber loose ground, grass, mud, many water crossings, roads were very slippery, the down hills were very steep. On one very long steep down hill, the organizers placed three or four spotters to catch us if we fell.

Some of the areas we rode through would have been better suited for a trials bike not a 450 enduro.

Some of the uphill sections we climbed almost straight up for 2 to 3 km, they were so steep that if you stopped the bike would start to slide back down. There were very narrow sections with sheer drops at the side of 1500 feet or more; very scary the consequences of a mistake were enormous if not deadly.

The navigation was very challenging, there were so many direction changes per stage, and the trails were not always easily visible. Unlike previous rallies I have participated in the organizers did not provide cap headings nor allow the use of a compass, adding to the navigation difficulty as there was no way to confirm if I was going the correct direction except to wait for the next land mark, to visibly verify. When professionals like Cyril and Marc get lost you can imagine how difficult it was for the rest of us.

I also experienced something different... normally in rallies the liason sections of the rally (the sections between the start or finish of the rally and the special) are on paved roads, this was not the case in Sardegna as most of the liason were very technical off road sections, many times they were more difficult then the special we had just completed. Most of the liason sections took at least three hours to complete, very challenging when you add we have just finished riding special for 8 to ten hours.

It was really a pleasure to ride out of the factory KTM team, and have the opportunity to work with World Champion Cyril Despres. Cyril was extremely helpful and enthusiastically provided advise, encouragement, and assistance to all of us during the rally. Cyril spent an entire day helping us dial in our suspension, as well he provided navigation advise that I know helped me a ton.

In addition to Cyrils help, his team manger Chris Evans was very helpful. He managed everything from organizing repairs, gathering briefing notes, to organizing food everyday. Over all it was incredible to experience the inner workings of a World Championship team and even more exciting to be part of the team and receive that level of support.

Next stop Egypt !

Don Hatton

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