Saturday 11th January
The competitors were relieved to see the rest day, the first half of this years Dakar has been more intense than normal putting around 100 of the 180 bikes out of the rally. We woke up to an overcast sky, welcoming the cooler weather and in the afternoon the rain came, slowly at first and then a downpour sending crews scrambling to shelter mechanics and equipment. The bivouac turned into a mud bath and whilst the bike teams had finished their work, the car teams worked right through the night.
Marc Coma has a 42 minute 17 second lead over Honda’s Juan Barreda. Jordi Viladoms holds fourth 1 hour and 8 minutes behind Marc. Riaan is 14th overall and Brett Cummings is 29th overall.
Sunday 12th January: Salta to Uyuni
Liaison section: 334 km Special stage: 232 km Neutral section: 8 km Special section: 161 km Liasion section: 33 km
Broadlink KTM’s Riaan van Niekerk left the bivouac at 4:30am this morning to start the first leg of the second marathon stage, which will take them into Bolivia. It would be a high altitude stage and they will sleep tonight at an isolated bivouac in Uyuni at 3500m. The start of the special was delayed due to heavy cloud cover preventing the helicopters from taking off, the special was also shortened by around 104 Kilometers and started at CP3.
The second half of the rally started with Marc Coma holding a 42 minute 17 second lead over Honda’s Juan Barreda. Jordi Viladoms holds fourth 1 hour and 8 minutes behind Marc. Riaan is 14th overall
Riaan rode another steady day finishing in 11th on the stage just 12 minutes 15 seconds behind stage winner Juan Barreda, improving his overall position again to 13th. Chatting on the sat phone, Riaan said the stage was not too technical, the roads were tight and twisty and in good condition. The last 20 Kilometers were muddy and in they rode up a river. He spent most of the day riding behind Olivier pain, cleverly ensuring that he didn’t make any navigational mistakes. His rear marathon tyre is in good shape, but he amongst a few other riders are showing the effects of high altitude. The entire stage was at high altitude and they will sleep at 3500m, Riaan felt that it was not so safe to race in these conditions, he is feeling light headed and a little nauseous. After servicing his bike, Riaan will do the normal road book, briefing, take some more altitude medication and try and get an early night.
Juan Barreda won the stage 4 minutes and 3 seconds ahead of KTM Red Bull Factory rider Marc Coma. Kuba Pryzgonski finished 5TH and Jordi Viladoms in 10th, moving him 3rd overall.
Brett Cummings finished in 26th , moving him up to 30th overall.
Monday 13th January: Unyuni to Calama
LiasIon section: 24 km Special stage: 462 km Liasion section: 215 km
The Salar de Uyuni is simply the biggest salt flat in the world, riders will be in awe as stage 8 will take them right around this gigantic stretch. The route will be marked out and across the salt flat, a marvel stretching more than 400 kilometers. They will pass by some islands which makes this site so exceptional. The stature of the Tunupa volcano (5300m) will be a spectacular feature on the landscape.