One more effort before the rest day. The end of the first week is near, but 817 km remain. The racers will be crossing river beds and the special test will be split into two sections. The first 230 kilometer section will take place in Bolivia before the second 106 kilometer long portion is contested in Argentina. Between the two sections, the competitors will cross the border during part of an 80 kilometer neutralized portion. There will be many competitors racing late into the night.
With Peterhansel and Goncalves setting the tracks, the riders have to be vigilant not to make any mistakes so that they can take full advantages of the rest day.
One rest day that sticks in my mind is when Scot Harden injured his groin. He was nursing a groin injury that took massive amounts of taping each day as well as pain medications. We used the rest day that Dakar to rehabilitate his groin the best that we could. That rest day helped Scot recover and go on to finish the Dakar Rally.
Today was a good example of how chaos, weather, accidents and taking a look at the big picture plays into racing the Dakar Rally. Goncalves obviously was the first rider to cut the tracks in the special. Then Walkner chased him down, and then obviously fell trying to chase the overall. I have seen this so many times, where a rider has a good stage and has sight of a high position in the overall classification. The next thing you see, is that person is on the ground and their Dakar is over…
Goncalves – stopped for a fallen rider – always a controversy but everyone understands. This is always a factor in the Dakar. Nowadays, the riders have no choice but to stop for a fallen rider. With all of the deaths and bad accidents during previous Dakar’s, Etienne Levigne emphasized to the competitors that they would receive their time back if they were involved in helping a rider. I saw this many times for example when Kellon Walch fell pretty bad during his first Dakar while running first in Morocco, he was aided by one of the Respsol riders if I remember correctly, and there was a question if that rider would receive his time back or not. It created a big controversy in the bivouac nonetheless. With each incident, and with more serious accidents resulting in injury and death, the organizers made it clear that the riders would receive their time back. And this goes with the original spirit of the Dakar Rally – which literally means to help each other find their way.
Meo is stepping it up, and won the day. But the race was suspended – severe weather and the motorcycle race was stopped while the cars were directed to continue through the weather. This will make an interesting shakeup for all of the competitors back in the field. Loeb took back the overall but anything can change in dunes…
At the end, its still a long way yet.. this came straight from an interview with Toby Price who is showing a lot of maturity for only his second Dakar. I’m placing my bets on this guy, but again, the dunes are coming and there will be a lot of reshuffling.
I mentioned David Casteu yesterday. He finished pretty well in the stage and moved up a bunch of spots. I have known David for many years and here is a shot with David and I from years back. David finished 2nd overall in the in 2007 and 4th overall in 2009. He actually won the whole series in 2010, even without racing the Dakar rally. In the last couple of years he hasn’t been able to repeat his podiums finishing 10th and 7th in 2014 and 2105 respectively. He actually lives close to my house in France, which is near Nice – la cote d’azur (French Riviera).