Tel Moreeb. Guest Blog. Horsepower Junkies

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There are timing strips at the bottom and about halfway up the dune at around 150metres long. So the runs themselves are timed – the best we saw whilst we were there was a fraction over 9 seconds. The other big difference? It’s a standing start at the bottom directly onto the hill with no run up.

Torque and power are paramount and there are two categories – based on cylinders, either 6 or 8 – both allowing fully modified cars that can push out upto 1500bhp.

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The helmeted drivers wear race overalls and fireproofs and sit inside roll cages in their fire-extinguisher equipped cars. There are limitations on the size and type of tyres used, and the cars have to be full-sized SUVs with complete chassis with engines at the front.

And they’re all Patrols right? More or less. The cars feature Patrol-lookalike bodies, but these are lightweight fibreglass substitutes designed to resemble the original cars. The bodies can cost around $2500 and the donor car can be picked up as scrap from as little as $1500.

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From these donor Patrols, the chassis and differential is kept – having an almost unburstable differential is one of the reasons that has made the Nissan Patrol so popular in this sport. Everything unnecessary is dumped, all the safety gear goes in along with toughened up transmission ranging from $6,000-12,000.

The biggest expense is the engine, and depending on how extreme you want to go with the modification and the sheer size and brutal extravagance of the turbo you put on it, that can cost between $20,000-40,000. That’s a total outlay of just over $30,000 to get started.

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Not bad for massively powerful adrenalin-fuelled blast up the hill! Well you’d think. Except it doesn’t always work out that way. The engines are so highly stressed that most cars we witnessed barely got beyond halfway, despite a spectacular start with all four wheels churning up tons of sand. One car didn’t even make it to the start line and we witnessed only three cars make it to the top on the first runs – out of 15 entrants!

Still the large crowd and the royalty and VIPs didn’t really seem that bothered – apparently it’s all part of the fun. And rather disappointingly whilst we saw a car on fire and another smoke itself, we saw no sensational fireball blow-up at the top. Indeed the only fireworks we witnessed were those demonstrated as part of the starting ceremony. But then we did call it a night early – apparently the action carried on till midnight.

– Shahzad Sheikh

Categories: Race

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