“The camels woke me up”: the incredible story of the Argentine who spent the night in the desert at the Dakar Rally

Note to Argentine Juan Manuel Silva who tells how he spent the night in the desert and other anecdotes from the Dakar Rally.

At Rally Dakar everything can happen and Juan Manuel Silva he can tell about it because in his twelfth participation he lives an adventure day after day on top of his MAN truck, which had mechanical failures that forced him to spend the night in the desert. He was picked up by the truck looking for the lost vehicles and after two days – and 1,000 kilometers – the 49-year-old pilot returned to the camp. After that odyssey, Infobae He spoke with the Chaco who will try to reengage in order to complete the tour.

The duck He has been competing in the Dakar Rally since 2011 when he started with a sandbox and then raced with a truck. This year he carries out his first participation with a truck that in the first week he had a loss of power and some days he arrived at the camps after 9:00 p.m. After the rest day, which helped him find the reason for the inconvenience (it was an electrical issue), he optimistically faced the seventh stage disputed on Sunday (Riyadh-Al Dawadimi), but first he had problems with the injection pump and although it fixed, then the vehicle came to a complete stop.

“We had started on Sunday, which was the beginning of the seventh stage, with great optimism because we had found a fault that had plagued us the first five days of the race. We had been having a great time, with much more power in the truck, Until with 120 kilometers to go the truck stopped, completely suddenly and never started again and it has not started for almost 48 hours”, He relates. The note was at 9:00 am in the Saudi morning (6 less than in Argentina) and after 2:00 pm the engine started, but intermittently.

The engine of the MAN del Pato Silva truck (Infobae)
The engine of the MAN del Pato Silva truck (Infobae)

Silva notified the organization to pick him up, but the rescue was delayed and he had to spend Sunday night in the desert. He could not do this Monday’s stage, Al Dawadimi-Wadi Ad Dawasir. That day he was rescued and arrived at the Wadi Ad Dawasir camp in the early hours of Tuesday.

We spent the night in the desert, we were able to recover yesterday morning, they took us out and put the truck there in a transport and get to this place that, from where we started, is at a distance of almost 1,000 kilometers. We arrived very late last night and the team got to work to see if I can run the special today. The problem does not appear, but apparently the injection pump is not working. Although it is not only a mechanical component, but there is also an electrical system that works and apparently (the problem) is electrical. They only detected that very early. We are lucky that the stage (on Tuesday) is in Wadi Ad Dawasir so part of the team stays here and goes to work all day to see if they can solve it. Seeing this situation there is a very big root problem that is electrical and that is generating different situations of malfunction “, explains the pilot of Puma Energy.

The team that attends your truck is the experienced Dutch Riwald that this year presented a hybrid truck (a combustion engine and an electric one). With a thermos and mate in hand, a little calmer and after having slept a few hours, the Chaco told this outlet about his incredible experience of sleeping in the middle of nowhere.

The work started at dawn and continued (Infobae)
The work started at dawn and continued (Infobae)

“It was one more night of so many that I have spent in the desert on the Dakar, a bit crazy, the strangest thing that happened to me was that at one point, when I was trying to sleep inside the cabin, I felt some strange noises and saw a beautiful moon that begins to form and had between ten and fifteen camels that were going around the truck, looking at the truck as if to say ‘what a strange camel this is, right?’. That was my first thought. It was very crazy because I hadn’t seen camels all afternoon and we spent a very long time working, trying to solve the problem until three or four in the morning and then at one point those camels appeared, it’s like they came, looked at the truck and They left because later when it dawned those camels never appeared again, ”he says.

The duck he related: “The camels woke me up with a strange noise they were making around there. So a nice anecdote to tell, of so many that the Dakar has. The Dakar is very crazy. When I talk to Carlos Banfi, my navigator, that if one tells friends, there are many times things that one prefers not to tell because people who do not live and who do not understand what the Dakar is, are like they do not understand what you are counting. The places we go through, the situations we live, the complications, but hey, it’s the Dakar, it’s a very special race that everyone wants to beat or that many people want to beat. Those of us who are here dream it, we live it, and nothing, they are really very rare situations, very nice to experience them so surely next year we will experience it again ”.

Silva already knows what it is like to spend the night in the desert, but he expresses that fear is always latent: “Something grabs you in that vastness and in the desert, such an inhospitable and The fear of saying ‘what can happen to me here?’ grabs you a bit. This is the Dakar, the most difficult race in the world and you know that you are exposed and you know that it could be an accident, an engine problem or a suspension problem. The engine is very demanding and in this case it was something electric because the reality that the truck is intact, we had been doing a nice race ”.

At the end of stage 7, the last one Silva ran, he placed 41st in the partial and 31st in the general classification (@patosilvasport)
At the end of stage 7, the last one Silva ran, he placed 41st in the partial and 31st in the general classification (@patosilvasport)

Already in his first participation in 2011, the duck spent the night in the desert. “That was my first time to spend the night in the desert and everyone told you that it was very cold in the desert and that time I was scared. I am not much to remember when they ask me the anecdotes, but I have lived many ”, he remembers.

About what situations he lived in the desert, he confessed one in particular shortly after his father’s death. “Sleeping in situations like this insolation, the craziest thing that happened to me was around there, a year, a few months after my father died, I felt in such an inhospitable place and that I had walked many kilometers to see if I could find mechanical help to solve a problem that the truck had, and that at some point I began to not know if hallucinate or what, that I was going to find my father who had passed away. That was strong. ‘If this is crazy?’ I’m not crazy, I mean, it happened. It happened to me. As that farewell with my father was missing and I said this may be the moment. That marks you a bit what situations the Dakar takes you so well, I love it, that is, I like it a lot so it is a very great passion of mine, from many years ago, this is my 12th Dakar ”.

For Silva his participation in the Dakar Rally is so strong that he makes a confession: “Many times you say ‘how much longer am I going to continue’, that when things like this happen to you you say ‘it seems that the end is coming’. But the reality is that today I’m thinking about the next Dakar so it’s crazy. It’s passion, It is a race and wanting to overcome those adversities, I think that out there it can become something like a measurement of how far the human being can go, how far I and each of us who are here can go so as long as I continue that passion we will continue here ”.

In 2021 Juan Manuel retired from regular practice in Argentina where he is one of the most recognized runners. He stood out on the track where He was champion of Formula Renault in 1993, TC 2000 in 1999 and TC in 2005. Since last year he began to be the sports director of the Honda team in the Super TC 2000. But he got behind the wheel again in this edition of the Dakar Rally where he was accompanied by his sailors, another Argentine, Carlos Mel Banfi and spanish Pau navarro.

Regardless of whether or not he can continue in the competition, he maintains: “I am very satisfied with the work. I’m not happy because this situation, although it takes me out of the race, I can continue (as a re-enlisted person), from a position that I was looking for and which was day after day to be close to 20th place in my first Dakar (in trucks). The good thing is that we made no mistakes, the truck is whole, I liked it, I enjoyed it so let’s hope we continue two or three more days of experience and if it cannot be fixed, well, obviously the experience was really good and it will surely be 2023″.


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