It’s been seven years since your last appearance on the world stage, and that was the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies. You won. But there’s an event you’ve missed. A title you’ve yet to claim. Perhaps in 2012, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge crown will be yours too.
But this is no picnic. Temperatures can hit the 40s, the heat haze enough in itself to make you weary. And the sand: it’s everywhere. In your clothes. In your hair. Pummelling the engine, the transmission, the suspension. Everything. There’s over 400km to run each day, and over 20 hours of driving ahead. Something will give. You know that.
And it does. On the fifth stage, you grind to a halt, the engine dangerously close to overheating. Still the sun beats down ferociously as your X-Raid co-driver Andreas Schulz and yourself work tirelessly to save the drive, energy sapping by the second.
It’s taking too long. You know that. But you can’t rush. If you do, you’ll make a mistake, or exhaust yourself. Either will destroy your chances of victory. Against rational thought, you brave the heat for longer: the shade under your Mini Countryman wheel arches is limited, but offers refuge at least.