What happened yesterday: Wednesday 8th January
Disaster struck when Riaan lost his bearings and went completely off course, losing more than 1 hour 30 in the process. Riaan said that “he has never been so lost in his life” clocking up an extra 65 kilometers in the process. Riaan finished the stage in 69th position, 2 hours down on the stage winner. He would start this morning in 72nd position after a few elite riders got slotted in front of him.
Todays stage: Thursday 9th January: Chilecito to Tucuman
Liaison section: 154 km Special stage: 211 km Neutral section: 111 km Special section: 205 km Liasion section: 231 km
This would go down to be Broadlink KTM’s Riaan van Niekerk’s best rally stage ever. Starting in 72nd position, everything would go “right” for Riaan as he found the way where everyone else failed finishing in an incredible 5th on the stage bringing him back down to 17th overall. It was almost not to be though, as when Riaan was navigating through the camel grass he crashed into Paulo Gonzalves’ burning Honda and nearly set himself alight. As he tried to pick the bike up, Riaan’s handguard hooked onto one of the cables from Paulo’s bike, the flames were licking Riaan’s rear tanks and it would have been a few seconds more and it would have been all over. Farres’ Gas Gas also went up in smoke today, the temperatures were simply too high. Grass collects in the bash plate and by the time you realize what’s going on, it’s too late.
The KTM Red Bull Factory team had a great day, everything fell into place for Marc Coma, who took the stage win and pulled 12 minutes 54 seconds on second place Jordi Viladoms. Kuba Pryzgonski was some ten minutes behind Jordi. Honda’s Helder Rodrigues was another 3 minutes back. Riaan was 32 minutes 04 seconds behind Marc Coma. This gives Marc a 41 minute 10 cushion over second place Juan Barreda. Chaleco is in third, Viladoms in fourth and Kuba in 7th.
Brett Cummings had a solid ride today finishing 35th, he is now 41st overall. A great achievement for a privateer riding in the Malle moto class, meaning that he has to maintain his bike himself.
Tomorrows stage: Friday 10th January: Tucuman to Salta
Liaison section: 37 km Special stage: 234 km Neutral section: 62 km Special section: 104 km Liasion section: 28 km
A new trip to the mountains will take motorcyclists to the banks of the rivers, they will have to watch out for animals. After this stage, they will finally be able to rest.
What happened yesterday:
Broadlink KTM’s Riaan van Niekerk rode a safe day to finish a comfortable 27th overall for the day 11 minutes off the pace set by Spaniard Juan Barreda on the Honda. Barreda pipped Marc coma by just 37 seconds who was again ahead of Despres by just over a minute. The racing stage was narrow and tight with some stony sections and river crossings. It was a long first day for the riders finishing off with just over 800 Km’s on the odo.
Todays stage: Tuesday 7th January: San Rafael to San Juan
Liaison sections: 292 km Special stage: 243 km
It was a dramatic 1st day of the marathon stage.
The first riders left the bivouac at 4:30am this morning to start the 292 Kilometer liaison section that would lead them to the start of their first marathon stage, that had been cut down to 243 Kilometers due to heavy rains that had damaged the race track in the past few days. Riders were warned about hotter temperatures than yesterday’s stage which saw the mercury hit 42 degrees, many riders had to withdraw due to dehydration. This was also the highest special stage of the rally, with riders crossing the pre Andes at 4200 meters passing the Aconcagua volcano, which stands at 6,962 m. The cars and bikes would split off on separate routes as the tracks would be too technical for the cars and trucks. Tonight the riders sleep in an isolated bivouac and have to service their bikes themselves. Broadlink KTM’s Riaan van Niekerk’s technical skills came into play today when the stage turned extremely technical as riders fought to summit the mountain. On one particular climb, Riaan really struggled and he said that he didn’t know how the rest of the field would get up. “the bikes don’t have any power at that altitude, I had to try twice on the one hill, my tyre is finished!” He said that the tyres have worn badly and tomorrow will be tough, riders will have to concentrate on saving their equipment and making it to the finish. Riaan said there were not many bikes at the finish and did not know that he had finished 13th on the stage and moved up in the overall rankings to 12th. A great place to be at this stage of the race.
Ruben Faria crashed heavily and has been taken to hospital for observation, he is ok, but he is out. Several of the front runners got lost today, taking the wrong vally and not being able to make the climb back up the mountain. Ben Grabham was amongst them and has lost some 2 hours on the leaders, he is still in the race and will have to fight to get back to the front. Frans Verhoeven also crashed out with a fractured arm or shoulder. Zambian Dave Reeve is also out with another leg injury, more details tomorrow.
Tomorrows stage: Wednesday 8th January: San Juan to Chilecito
Liaison section: 59 km Special stage: 352 km Liaison section: 151 km
The balance of the marathon stage will be super demanding, with super tough navigation in the beginning of the long and tough stage, the challenge will be to make the finish with already badly worn tyres.
Sound Clips - Stage 3:
Darryl Curtis - http://goo.gl/1hvbUw
Glyn Hall - http://goo.gl/1GyhEk
Dave Reeve - http://goo.gl/YdU888
Alex Doringer - http://goo.gl/ctXbVw
What happened yesterday:
Broadlink KTM’s Riaan van Niekerk rode a safe day to finish a comfortable 27th overall for the day 11 minutes off the pace set by Spaniard Juan Barreda on the Honda. Barreda pipped Marc coma by just 37 seconds who was again ahead of Despres by just over a minute. The racing stage was narrow and tight with some stoney sections and river crossings. It was a long first day for the riders finishing off with just over 800 Km’s on the odo.
Liaison sections: 304 km Special stage: 359 km Liasion sections: 62
The second stage of the Dakar is described as the fastest of the rally, absolutely flat out for the first half of the stage to CP1 at the 188 Km mark and then into the dunes. Navigation did not seem to be a problem as there were so many spectators out there. Riaan had a great day finishing 19th in the stage, moving him to 18th overall. The marathon stage starts tomorrow and will take them to San Juan. it will start off with a 292Km liasion section followed by a 373Km special test.
Riaan van Niekerk:
“This morning was just about a straight road for 40 kilometers, I didn’t tap off. Refueled at 170Km then another straight section for 60 kilometers then into the dunes, navigation wasn’t too difficult, lots of spectators. It was very hot and a very long day today. I’m happy with my 19th today”
"Good second stage, the first part was very fast, the second part were the first dunes which are very nice in Argentina, happy with my second place, the new bike was very good, great suspension and i feel like jumping more with it"
"Not a perfect day I got a stone lodged behind my gear lever and i had to stop in the dunes, it cost me some minutes to stop and fix this, but it's still a long race"
"Interesting day, I followed in dust for the first 170 km, once we got into the dunes I had a lot of fun, I didn't do anything silly today, I had a good time and got to ride with Ruben and I'm still learning from the faster guys, all in all a good day two for me."
"Today the stage was better than yesterday, I had 170 km in the dust, it was hard to pass Pizzalito after the refuel and I lose some time, after that i pushed hard in the sand and it made up time"