Miller's disappointment with what happened on day two was a follow-up to problems on the first day, when she and Medard had to deal with a broken shock and shock mount (fixed that evening), and the map went missing. It happens every year to at least one team, believe it or not. To get around that problem, they stuck a piece of duct tape on the windshield, creating a shadow on the dash. They used that to determine what direction they needed to travel to reach the next coordinate set, and managed to finish the day in sixth, topping off that night by finding the map. In addition, a sandstorm picked up before the start of the rally, which brought visibility way down, kicked up swirling dirt devils, and continued to rage for two days.

Unlike the race vehicles, each media SUV has the advantages of nav, GPS, and a communications system. Correspondents keep in touch with each other and the race organizers, and can get updates on the current location of a particular team. Satellite tracking helps with safety issues and reduces the possibility of cheating. Even with these advantages, you can still get stuck, and when Goncales did, in some surprisingly deep silt, we asked if he was upset about it. He replied, "Nah. Everyone gets stuck in the desert. Anyone who says he's never gotten stuck is either in the desert for the first time or is lying." He's right.

We used the nav and the radio to learn where both American teams were, and saw plenty of awesome vehicles along the way. ATVs, crossovers, and a nebulous category called "4WD" were at the race. These included FJ40s and newer Land Cruisers, Patrols, Land Rover Defender 90s, and Volkswagen Amaroks. One of our favorites in the rally was a Sprinter 2500 with a center section removed, bringing the wheelbase down to 96 inches, about half an inch longer than that of a two-door Wrangler. We also saw lots of pickups not sold in the U.S., many of which were rentals. That can cost teams less than shipping a truck from North or South America.