During the rally we will need to be able to get ourselves “unstuck” without depending on someone else to give us a pull. And winching is not a viable option in such barren terrain.
The “solution” to the “stuck in soft sand” scenario comes in the guise of brightly colored plastic mats from Austrailia, known as “MaxTrax.” This lightweight vehicle recovery system is favored by competitors in some of the world’s toughest offroad events because it is safe, simple, quick and easy.
Made of UV stabilised, flexible, super tough engineering-grade reinforced nylon, MaxTrax provides traction and a firm base to get a vehicle quickly back on track. They come in sets of two, which should be sufficient for most circumstances, but we found that using four of them makes for the most efficient self-extraction. We had a chance to learn how to use them during our training for the rally and were quickly won over. After getting stuck on top of a dune, a Jeep dug in up to the skidplates just lifted itself up and out of the sand with minimal time spent digging.
The MaxTrax needs to be tightly wedged under the tire in the direction you want to go, so that some piece of your tire treads connect with the knobby plastic cleats on the mat. Once the MaxTrax are in place, make sure you are in 4Lo, and gently apply the throttle. The initial grip will be enough to engage the tire and give the vehicle the traction it needs to get moving and “unstuck” itself. As the tires slowly turn they will pull the Maxtrax under, and the vehicle will start climbing up onto the mats and over the sand. The driver just needs to keep the throttle steady and drive straight. Once the vehicle is in a “safe” spot, stop and recuperate the Maxtrax (remember to use the little “leashes” provided, so that if the mats get buried under the sand in the process, you can find them again).