South Grafton's Lee Palmer in desert rally epic
SOUTH Grafton's Lee Palmer is not sure when he might get his next gig as a World Rally Championship navigator.
Palmer has just returned from the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge where he was the co-driver for German driver Amadeus Matzker, finishing a disappointing 14th after a top-10 spot seemed likely.
The veteran rally navigator and co-driver has been involved with rally driving for almost a decade after cutting his teeth in the sport riding motorbikes.
"I just freelance now," he said. "I get the call and I fly over there.
"Normally I would do three to four rallies a year. But with what's happening in Egypt, there's been problems in the area and a couple have been cancelled."
The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, which wrapped up on April 11 after six days of competition, proved a greater health challenge for Palmer's Team Matzker than normal.
"We went pretty well to finish 14th, but we were on track for a finish in the top 10 'til my driver got really car sick," Palmer said.
"The problem was going over these big sand dunes. I don't think anyone in Australia has any idea how big they are.
"I'd say they're 600m to 700m high and racing over them creates this endless up-down, up-down motion."
He said the motion sickness had not been a problem for him.
"As a navigator I've got my head down and I'm concentrating on a map," he said.
"The driver is concentrating too, but he's got his head up and is looking around."
Palmer said his rally car could reach speeds up to 180kmh on the salt flats and other hard ground.
"When we're going over the dunes in the soft sand, we're probably only going about 40-50kmh," Palmer said.