The Dead and the Alive: The story of a rally in which no one made it to the finish line The Bandama Rally is an amazing and forgotten page in the world of motorsport.
Hearing the word "Bandama", most must see a mistake in the name of a fashionable headdress. That's just Bandama - not a headband, but a large river on the West coast of Africa, or rather in Côte d'Ivoire. The Bandama rally has been held here for half a century, one of the most picturesque and difficult on the planet. So difficult that once at the finish of the race there was no one to uncork the victorious champagne ...
With absolute formulations it is not easy. Name, for example, the most difficult car race in history? Any Formula 1 Grand Prix? We do not argue about speeds, technologies and the level of driving skills, but simple mathematics confirms that on average over 80% of the starters reach the finish line. It turns out that everything is not so complicated already ... Exactly for the same reason, the 24 Hours of Le Mans or the modern Dakar cannot be ranked among the most-most tests from the world of motorsport. In any case, at least half of those who started, or even more, receive the go-ahead with a checkered flag.
Compare this to rally racing in the second half of the 20th century. One of the organizers of the multi-day Liege-Rome-Liège rally, the Belgian Marcel Garo, used to say: “The ideal rally is one in which one crew arrives at the finish line!”.
Monsieur Garo did not reach his golden ideal. The "best" result of Liège-Rome-Liège was eight finishing crews in 1961. In the history of motorsport, however, there is a unique chapter that would surely arouse both envy and approval of the Belgian. This is the 1972 Bandama Rally, a race that did not finish at all.
The rallies of the 60s and 70s of the last century are slightly different from the current generally accepted format. Today, the classic rally consists of special stages (they are also SU or special stages) and road sections. On the dope - a section of the road closed to normal traffic, the pilots rush as fast as possible. On the road sections, on the contrary, you should not drive. Here you need to adhere to the pace set by the organizers and check in at the finish line in the minute indicated in the legend. The winner is the one who passes all stages in the shortest time and does not allow penalties on the road sections.
Half a century ago, special stages were rare, and rallies often consisted entirely of road sections. The main thing was to finish the distance without penalties for being late. It would seem, what is the problem? Nothing, of course, unless the organizers set an impossible pace. This, by the way, was famous for the same Monsieur Garo. Add to this the bad roads (and often their absence), difficult weather conditions and very limited technical support. Doesn't the task of the rally drivers of the 60s and 70s seem so easy anymore?
There on the banana lanes...
Fast forward to the 60s of the last century. The most difficult in the world was then considered the "Safari Rally" in Kenya. Huge distances, a landscape that is deadly for cars, sizzling heat, the incredible beauty of Kilimanjaro - well, a very picky cocktail.
Even he seemed rustic to Jean-Claude Bertrand. A Frenchman with a capital F, a desperate adventurer and adventurer, he moved to Côte d'Ivoire in the early 1950s. Driving a Dodge truck, Jean-Claude traveled all over the country and quickly realized that transporting bananas, sweet potatoes and wood is not the most interesting thing that one can think of in local realities. A good rally driver and quick-witted manager, Bertrand decided to arrange a rally in Côte d'Ivoire. Of course, the most difficult and prestigious in the world!
Jean-Claude had no doubts about success. He calculated everything. The main dish should, of course, be the track. Bertrand, who had traveled the length and breadth of the Ivory Coast, knew very well: there are no roads in the usual European view here at all. The locals considered a highway even a narrow dirt road cut by the channels of rivers and streams, on which a couple of cars could hardly pass. The entrances and exits of water barriers are thoroughly broken by the wheels of trucks - it is dangerous to meddle there in a passenger car. "Exactly what is needed!" The Frenchman gleefully rubbed his hands.
But that's not all. Jean-Claude himself, with the help of an off-road vehicle, a machete and a swear word, punched trails in dense thickets of reeds, creating a track in places that still did not know the humiliation of a car tread.
The eyes of the pilots of the Michelin test crews who wrote the legend popped out of their sockets when they realized where the rally participants would have to race. “If it rains, the road will become completely impassable!” they appealed in vain to the voice of reason of the organizers.
Another important ingredient for success is money. Jean-Claude pulled up solid sponsors for the project. The crew of the winners were promised 5 million francs! Very solid money for those times.
And, of course, the romance of adventurism - where without it. “Bandama” (as the rally was named after the largest river of Côte d’Ivoire) was overgrown with legends and myths even before the first start. French journalists dug up the macabre details of the local folklore, and the newspapers came out with chilling headlines along the lines of "Headhunters come at night." Allegedly, there is a belief in local tribes - when an elder dies, you need to calm the evil spirits by sacrificing seven severed heads!
An almost impassable track, very generous prize money, the probability (albeit small) of dying at the hands of local thugs - you must admit, a great idea for a short but intense business trip! On December 6, 1969, almost 60 crews gathered for the start of the first Bandama rally in history. During two exhausting days of the race, the participants were convinced that Monsieur Bertrand really made one of the most picturesque and at the same time tough rally in the world.
We tighten the nuts
Immediately 43 crews at the finish line of the first "Bandama" Jean-Claude took almost as a personal insult. The toughest rally in the world must be tougher! And the judges began to tighten the screws. The following year, only five crews will reach the finish line, in 1971 - eight. Among those who came down that year was even the Renault Alpine A110 of Bertrand himself. But 1972 was still out of competition.
The fourth edition of "Bandama" is already a full-fledged international event, and not small-town rides. The complexity of the route, local exotics and, of course, millions of prize money attracted more and more famous names to Côte d'Ivoire every year.
Take a look at the starting list for the 1972 rally. Henri Pescarolo, Jean-Pierre Jabouille, Gerard Larousse, Jean-Pierre Beltoise, Timo Mäkinen, Hannu Mikola, Shekhar Mehta - a real festival of motorsport stars of the 70s. Cars, too, as a choice. Among the main favorites is the very fast two-door Citroën DS 21 Proto Group 5 Coupe. Side by side, not so powerful, but incredibly hardy, one might say, almost indestructible Datsun 1600 SSS and Peugeot 504 Ti.
Let's not forget about the whole scattering of Renault 16 - light hatches with front-wheel drive. Until the era of the Audi Quattro, this combination was considered the best for off-road rallying.
To match the stellar company was the organization of the race. This time, Jean-Claude Bertrand decided to hold the rally during the traditional vacation period for Europeans - between Catholic Christmas and the New Year. The start was preceded by a luxurious gala party. Champagne by the river, seafood as much as you want, beauties in bikinis - what else does a racer need on the eve of a grueling adventure, at the finish of which a check for as much as 10 million awaits a lucky couple ?!
If only the members knew what was ahead of them, they might have started packing things right after the welcome party.
If you call a spade a spade, then the organizers of "Banadama-1972" overexaggerated. The standards for passing the route were shocking. It was proposed to cover a distance of almost 4000 km at an average speed of 100 km/h. Nonsense, you say?
First, we are talking about average, not maximum speed. Secondly, remember about the roads of disgusting quality. Thirdly, there was no time for a good rest - the track had to be overcome in one sitting!. When the pilot was exhausted, the navigator replaced him at the wheel. The only indulgence from the organizers was that the navigation on the track itself was quite simple. It's impossible to get lost. But that's kind of a consolation.
“If you go at a relatively comfortable pace and take care of the car, then you get out of the proposed schedule very quickly,” shrugged the colorful bearded man Henri Pescarolo, the future four-time Le Mans winner. - In order not to receive penalty points, you have to drive for all the money on completely broken roads. Dust makes it difficult to navigate, huge stones destroy the suspension. This is a real war with time and nature!
The Chrysler pilot was not exaggerating. Already after the first 600-kilometer lap of the rally from Abidjan along the borders of the Comoe National Park and back, the race missed the Porsche 911 of the French crew of Touroul-Vernet and one of the eight Renault 16s. By that time, only nine of the 52 starting crews met the allotted time and did not receive penalty points!
Then everything was only harder.
Then we began to count the wounds ...
At the finish of the second loop, only four cars were able to meet the limit. And this is after a thousand kilometers - only a quarter of the distance!
The quartet of favorites included two 504 Peugeots - one from Finn Hannu Mikola, the other from Englishman Tony Fall. The Datsun of Kenyan Shekhar Mehta, the unsurpassed ace of African rallies, did not lag behind. Leadership was taken by the 170-horsepower Citroen DS Proto by Robert Neyre, the winner of Bandama-1971.
The guys raced along the narrow paths at a speed of 120–130 km/h. The machines were worn out. From unbearable shaking and hard blows with meat, the suspension arms and engine mounts were pulled out. Local repairs did not help for a long time and not always. When titanic fatigue was added to the difficulties of the track, the number of retirements began to grow like the temperature in a boiled radiator.
“At first I tried to remember the numbers of abandoned cars,” recalled Renault pilot Patrick Vanson, “But then I gave up this idea. Almost every patch of grass on the side of the road stuck out someone's license plate ... ".
Even the organizers realized that they went too far. After the third road section, the participants were given an additional three hours to put their cars in order and get some sleep. All the same, only 11 crews came to the start of the fourth section. And soon those who remained in the race envied those who retired ...
There are two left
Only this was not enough! Suddenly the skies opened up in a tropical downpour. In a matter of minutes, tons of water hit the track. As the Michelin pilots warned, in the rain the Bandama instantly becomes impassable... December in Côte d'Ivoire is generally not the rainy season, but there is an exception to every rule.
The dust has disappeared, although this does not make it easier for the riders - the roads have turned into mud baths. Here's Shekhar Mehta's Datsun, who inherited the top spot after Robert Neyre's Citroen fell asleep at the wheel and missed a corner, gets stuck in a ditch. Tony Fall's Peugeot 504 rushes by. But what is it?.. Although the Englishman is behind the Kenyan in penalty minutes, he still slows down to help his colleague get on the road. Respect!
Only these two remain among the favorites in the race. One of them should receive the prize money of 10 million. For a while, Peugeot and Datsun stick together to help each other out if something happens. But then transmission problems start at Peugeot, and Fall falls behind. Mehta is the champion? No matter how…
Near the coastal town of Taboo, the Datsun's front shock absorber breaks, and the Kenyan loses two hours. With sin in half, the crew of the 240Z repairs the car, gets out onto the main road to Abidjan, just 200 kilometers from the intermediate finish, and discovers ... the time control abandoned by the judges. Tony Fall in a Peugeot with a junk box has already passed here and said that Mehta broke down and, apparently, got off. The judges did not begin to understand what was happening, packed their things and went home.
And the Oscar goes to...
The sports part of Bandama-1972 was over. But the most interesting, as it turned out, was just beginning. Foll's Peugeot was the first to win the rally. He was the only one to reach the last time control point near the city of Man.
True, at that time the Englishman had already exceeded the limit of maximum lateness and, in theory, should have been disqualified. Then the organizers decided to calculate the results of the intermediate result at the earlier HF in Taboo - Fall was indeed in the lead there.
This was not to the liking of the Datsun team, which filed a protest and demanded that the Mane result be announced. It's also logical. If the judges had not left the check point and waited for the Kenyan, then he should have been recognized as the winner - the Datsun crew collected fewer fines than the Peugeot pilot ...
Well, then something amazing happened. In all the fuss, a local noname quite unexpectedly reached the finish line in Abidjan! In disassembling the favorites, they simply forgot about him ...
Thus, the organizers had three potential champions at once. Depending on where to sum up - in Man, Taboo or Abidjan. The race director understood: in any case, someone will be dissatisfied. Therefore, out of three evils, Jean-Claude Bertrand chose ... the fourth: "Since no one could overcome the entire distance of the Bandama-1972 rally, there will be no winner!" The entire prize fund was transferred to the next year's race.
BMW electric self-driving test car collides with oncoming traffic, leaving one dead and nine injured in mass crowding in Germany.
One person has died and nine were seriously injured after an electric, self-driving BMW test car rammed into oncoming traffic in Germany. caused a series of collisions involving four vehicles.
The electric BMW iX, which had five people on board, including an 18-month-old toddler, veered out of its lane on a bend in the road in the southwestern city of Reutlingen on Monday and hit an oncoming Citroen.
The BMW then collided head-on with a Mercedes-Benz van, killing a 33-year-old passenger in that vehicle.
Meanwhile, the 70-year-old driver of the Citroën lost control of her car and collided with another vehicle with two people on board, pushing it off the road and engulfing it in flames.
The electric BMW iX, which had five people on board, including an 18-month-old toddler, veered out of its lane on a bend in the road in the southwestern city of Reutlingen on Monday and hit an oncoming Citroen. Pictured: BMW iX series file image
Reutlingen police spokesman Michael Schaal said four rescue helicopters were involved in providing medical assistance and the injured were taken to several hospitals in the region.
Among them were the 43-year-old driver of the BMW, three adults aged 31, 42 and 47 and an 18-month-old child who were all in the test vehicle.
Schaal said police had not yet had an opportunity to interview those involved in the accident.
“The crash vehicle was an autonomous electric test car,” the police said in a statement. “Whether it was driven by the 43-year-old (driver) or not is under investigation.”
The BMW then collided head-on with a Mercedes-Benz van, resulting in the death of a 33-year-old passenger in that vehicle in Reutlingen
BMW confirmed that one of its test vehicles was involved in a collision near Reutlingen, but denied that the vehicle was fully autonomous.
The vehicle has a Level 2 driver assistance system already built into production vehicles today, which can assist the driver on request. ‘With level 2 vehicles, the driver always retains responsibility.’
BMW added that the vehicle, which costs at least £77,300, had to be marked as a test car for data protection purposes as it was recording footage.
“We are investigating the exact circumstances (of the crash),” BMW said. “Of course we are in close contact with authorities.”
The wait times for deliveries of the new Tesla Model 3 and Tesla Model Y in the US have been consistently increasing for more than a year, a new customer survey reveals.
According to survey data released by Troy Teslike, who tracks various Tesla-related stats, the queue for the Model 3 and Model Y is now longer than ever.
In the case of the Model Y, buyers who took delivery in Q2 2022 waited 175 days (almost 6 months since placing an order) on average. That's much longer than in Q2 2021 (46 days), and noticeably more than at the launch/ramp-up phase (over 130 days).
In the case of the Model 3, the numbers are lower, but still at record highs: 89 days (or over three months) on average for deliveries completed in Q2 2022. A year earlier, it was barely 50 days, while two years ago, it was just 20 days.
As we understand, the numbers are averages for the models, which means that some versions (the top of the line or with options) might have shorter wait times. On the other hand, the entry-level versions (which are potentially less profitable for the company) might require a longer wait time.
Troy Teslike expressed hope that production of the Tesla Model Y in Texas will increase and reduce the queue, which will be checked in the next edition of the survey.
The data is especially interesting because Tesla has recently decided to axe the possibility of ordering the Tesla Model 3 Long Range (AWD) version in the US and Canada, explaining that the waitlist is too long. The version is expected to be re-introduced at some point in 2023.
As we can see, the issue with the Tesla Model Y (top-selling electric car in the US and globally in 2022) is even bigger. However, the data for the Model 3 also indicates an accelerated increase of the number of days from 60 in Q1 to 89 in Q2.
Tesla estimated deliver times
A different approach to see how long customers are waiting for cars is to see Tesla's estimated delivery time, which is visible when ordering.
According to the research done by Troy Teslike, it's 4 months on average globally. The Tesla Model 3 LR in the US and Canada spiked to over 5 months, but the Model Y LR was at over 7 months. The biggest issue is with the Tesla Model X LR which is at over 9 months.
A side effect of this method is that it can be used to estimate the order backlog (assuming production volume in the previous periods and wait time). Currently, it seems that Tesla has more than 500,000 orders on hand for four core models.