Tuesday October 12th - On the stroke of eight the trucks leave the hotel for the first serious desert tests. The route starts at about half an hour's drive from the Hotel at El Mouradi. The atmosphere is relaxed, but everyone is completely focused on the trial ahead. Of the MAN drivers Franz Echter is the only one with desert racing experience. The first test will be on a predetermined route trough the Tunisian desert. Any sense of distance is blurred by the scenery. The VeKa team is not alone on the sandy route. Once in a while some other 4x4 or a local moped driver passes the trucks. These 4x4 are here on practice runs too, and to add to the Dakar vibe the occasional camel crosses the trail. Judging by its relaxed expression it has no clue of the power the huge red trucks pack. The goal of the day is to drive as many miles as possible. Acquiring experience in desert conditions is the main objective for this testing trip. The progress among the team members is significant. Franz Echter and Marcel van Vliet have years of Dakar experience, but rookies Peter Versluis and Cor Euser are doing very well too. The whole team is very open in sharing details as both the navigators and the drivers change seats and trucks multiple times during the day to forge the whole team into a strong unit. On Wednesday and Thursday night the team will set up camp in the desert, creating the real Dakar experience.