Youth verses experience went head to head again today and experience came out on top.
Everyone who’s still in has got into their rhythm, early morning, ride for hours across epic landscapes, arrive at bivouac, prep road book, eat, prep vehicle, sleep – repeat.
Stage 6 hugs Chile’s Pacific coast and heads west towards Iquique, the stage profile below shows some pretty serious climbs and descents, today will be mostly mountain ridges and more epic views.
Here’s what the organisers have to say.
“The route will then climb up the Pacific coast towards Iquique. The motorcycles and quad bikes will cover a few extra kilometres as part of the special stage: a detour will take them into endurance-type terrain and onto mountain ridges with views over the sea. All the competitors will then explore the dunes which run alongside and dominate the coastline. But they won’t arrive at the bivouac via the famous descent. For the first time, the half-way point in the race will be marked on a podium in the centre of Iquique. The encounter between drivers and their fans will be emotional, following the earthquake which affected the region at the start of the year.”
The two SP51 bikes are making their way up the overall standings
Before we dive into Stage 5 a quick update on Chris Cork, he’s sadly joined fellow brit Sam Sunderland on the withdrawals list.
Information is pretty thin, but we’re hearing he broke his hand 40km form the end of Stage 4. The live timing shows he finished the stage, if that’s the case and he rode 40km with a broken hand that show the pure determination of a man hell bent on conquering this mad race. We wish you well Chris.
A brief update from Sam as well, he tweeted that after his navigation issues on Stage 2 he got really dehydrated, as a result he was struggling with his vision on Stage 3 and 4.
Ok, on to Stage 5, a relatively short stage today just 697km in total with a 458km special. As competitors continue through the Atacama region of Chile the dryness of the landscape will continue to beat them down, not only that elevation continues to play a part with the special rising to nearly 3000 metres.
Here’s what the organisers have to say about today:
“This is the first of the rare special stages in which all categories will compete. At the start of the race, the most confident drivers will be able to take advantage of the fast tracks to try to move up in the overall standings. But the temptation to do so may be risky, particularly in the hard-to-handle fesh-fesh areas where absolute self-control is the only guarantee of success. Overtaking here requires precision handling to the extreme.”
Sam crashed out of the Dakar on stage 4 with a suspected broken shoulder
Stage 4’s liaison is 594km/369mi that’s the equivalent of London to Edinburgh, only instead of the Yorkshire Dales everyone (including support crews) have to cross the Andes.
The Dakar is never just about the timed stages, it’s as much about the liaison, so you’ve got suited up with all your body armour or fire suit, driven from London to Edinburgh, great! Now you have to race 315km/195mi back to York through desert and dunes.
Here’s what the organisers have to say:
“The competitors will have to prove they are worthy of entering Chile! A very early start and a climb to a height of 4,800 metres will precede the border crossing at Paso San Francisco. The really challenging section will begin with a gradual warm-up on the mining tracks, before drivers are faced with the reality of the Atacama Desert. The route here is open and sandy. Over the course of the last 40 kilometres, the giant dunes and basins of Copiapo will have to be tackled and for many this will be at night. Overcoming them will require finesse and instinct.”
Those two checkpoints in the sand at 251 and 261 mean navigation is going to be critical towards the end of another long day. That last 15km of dunes don’t look too inviting either for some they bring on the end of their Dakar, here’s hoping as many as possible make it to the bivouac!
This stage results post has to start with the sad news that #82 Michal Hernik from Poland died on stage today, our condolences go out to his family and team.
Today competitors will rise to over 3000 metres above see level before dropping down again on their way down they’ll cross a 20km section of dunes.
The special covers a meagre 220km for the bikes/quads and 284km for the cars/trucks, stage 3 is a bit of a breather for the competitors.
The organisers have this to say about Stage 3:
“The pressure which competitors faced the day before, (and late into the night for some of them) will partly ease off on the road to Chilecito. The shorter and less intense stage will allow them to enjoy their majestic surroundings. The red earth tracks, overlooking steep peaks and plunging down into canyons, will take the Dakar through one of the most beautiful regions of Argentina. But no-one should be tempted to sit back and enjoy the view, particularly on the motorcycle and quad bike routes which include some gruelling sections. With thousands of stones to be avoided, it will only take one to ruin this magnificent day!”
Thousands of stones?!?!
Lets hope it’s less like this – the Carl’s Diner section of Erzberg Rodeo
More like this – a nice hard pack gravel fire road
Knowing Dakar, it’ll probably be both of these and every possible permutation in between!
For the full breakdown of the distances and terrain check out the Stage 3 route
The Polish Quad rider Rafal Sonik said of todays stage it was, “too cruel” – it wouldn’t be the Dakar if it was easy!
Before we go into a little bit of detail about Stage 2 we’d like to congratulate Sam Sunderland on winning Stage 1, by just 5 seconds to Goncalves, he did however thoroughly spank reigning champ and team mate Coma by just over 1 minute.
All the rest of the Brits made it through the stage, their starting positions for tomorrow aren’t confirmed until they return to the bivouac.
So here’s the run down:
Sam Sunderland #6 – 1st on stage
Chris “Corky” Cork #104 – 150th on stage
Llewelyn Pavey – #75 – 84th on stage
Simon Pavey – #76 – 85th on stage
Dean Gibbs – #423 – 123rd on stage
Chris Rutter & team – #556 – 53rd on stage
Stage 2 – Villa Carlos Paz to San Juan
From ASO – “Any rest will be short-lived, because before reaching San Juan, the competitors will have a particularly busy schedule: quite simply the longest special stage in the rally, which is varied enough to unsettle even the most experienced of drivers. Hard terrain at the start of the race will be followed by dusty sections in the middle of the day and a sandy stretch to finish. This is the first real test, which can only be successfully overcome through constant vigilance.”
The longest they say, a whopping 518km, that’s the equivalent of London to Carlisle, over rocks, hills and dunes. It’ll be interesting to see how the front runners settle after that, will Sam keep and extend his early lead? Or will Coma’s experience pay dividends and see him rise to the top? All we know is it wouldn’t be Dakar if it wasn’t tough!