Dubai: As the excitement builds up for the 37th Gulf News Fun Drive, participants have been advised to keep in mind some of the dos and don’ts before they embark on their adventurous journey.
John Spiller, Fun Drive route director, spoke about the best practices to follow for the overnighter event, which will be held on January 12-13 in Umm Al Quwain. The desert off-roading bash is being supported by Al Futtaim Motors.
Regardless of whether the driver is an expert or a novice, to ensure everyone enjoys a truly memorable experience, participants need to be well aware of the safety rules and tips of the drive, he said.
There will be 90 marshals monitoring the event and providing support to anyone who needs it, Spiller said. From tips on how to tackle a certain type of sand, how to climb a dune safely or indeed to be saved when stuck in sand, the marshals will be with the people every step of the way.
Just before starting the day, drivers need to make sure the car is prepared, filled up with petrol, and their tyres are checked and are in good condition.
“Ensuring all passengers are buckled up and children are seated in the back is important, because people can get carried away in the desert and think it’s safe but then if an incident happens, that’s when people bang their noses on windscreens.”
Keeping a distance between the cars is equally vital, Spiller noted, just in case a car in front stops and the driver is not paying attention.
“If the car in front stops and you’re not paying attention, you have an incident. Also, for clearing obstacles, soft patches, and difficult parts in the desert, they need to slow down. They need to let the vehicle in front clear the problem and then go ahead. If everyone does that in the discipline fashion, we don’t have bumps and fewer people will get stuck and have a fun drive,” he said.
Regarding speed, he said there should be no need to go fast on the eight-hour drive, particularly when it’s dusty, with patience being another rule to follow.
“People should be patient and not get frustrated and realise that they will have a better day if they just control themselves. There are places where we will recommend them to not go over 30-40km/h because we know there will be dust there.”
Other things to remember is to deflate the tyres for the desert and to re-inflate them for gravel tracks in the mountain, he added. “Drivers should always have their lights on when in convoy, and basically keep that distance.”
Driving wise, Spiller noted that drivers need to drive with a little bit of confidence to avoid getting stuck. “In case of extreme dusty weather conditions, they need to drive within the limits of their visibility and stop when needed.”
Also, participants have been advised to keep themselves hydrated and asked to avoid littering in the desert.
“There is no golden rule to cover the kinds of situations that you are presented with in the desert, however, but we recommend people to get a jack and wheel brace so that if they have a puncture, they are able to change the wheel because we’ve had cars where the wheels were flat and they couldn’t find the handle for the jack,” he said.
To avoid standing in long queues at re-inflation points, he also recommended bringing a compressor to speed up the process for them. “As for safety in a rescue situation, it’s very important children are kept well clear of vehicles being towed out of the sand.”
Returning to the Northern Emirates after three years, the event, dubbed a ‘Northern Adventure’, starts at the Emirates Motorplex, Umm Al Quwain. The event will kick off with an off-road drive through challenging terrain and will then culminate at a scenic camp in the Umm Al Quwain region.
The success of the Fun Drive over the past 32 years has been made possible by the support of a number of organisations and sponsors.
Al Futtaim Motors – Toyota is the main sponsor for the event. Checkpoint sponsors include Laban Up, Lacnor, Oasis, Orient Tours, Orient Travel, Pringles, Total and Toyota. Support sponsors include Byrne, Denim, Flow Composite Manufacturing FZC, TORC The Offroad Company and Wildcraft. Catering is by Foodcraft and JA Resorts & Hotels. The official hotel is Barracuda Beach Resort UAQ. Fun Drive numbers are sponsored by AMITY University. TOTAL is the Lubricants sponsor and BF Goodrich the Official tyre sponsor. The Fun Drive is being organised with the support of IATC and the Emirates Motorplex, UAQ.
Make sure the car is ready for the drive: Filled up with petrol and tyres are in good condition
Everyone should be buckled up
Keeping a distance between the cars
Slow down in case of an incident in front of you
No need to speed
Keep lights on in convoy
Deflate tyres for the desert, inflate them for gravel tracks
Get a jack and a compressor