-- Dakar Stage Seven - Marathon stage (no mechanical support) from Calama to
Salta (Argentina) total distance 806 km – liaison of 586 km and 202 km of timed
Results Stage Seven
1, Kurt Caselli, USA, KTM one hour 51.31
2, Chaleco Lopez, Chile, KTM 1:52.54
3, Olivier Pain, France, Yamaha, 1:52.54
4, Frans Verhoeven, Netherlands, Yamaha, 1:53.01
5, Ruben Faria, Portugal KTM 1.54.01
6, Joan Pedrero, Spain, KTM, 1:54.13
7, Jakub Przygonski, Poland, KTM 1:54.22
Overall Standings after Stage Seven
1, Pain, 17:28.17
2, Lopez, 17:34.23
3, Casteu, 17:34.54
4, Faria 17:37.59
5, Despres, KTM, 17:42.24 (at 14.07)
6, Przygonski, KTM, 17:49.00
7, Svitko, KTM, 17:53.08
8, Caselli 17:56.03
-- KTM Report
Stage Seven win for KTM's Kurt Caselli
Red Bull KTM factory rider Kurt Caselli (USA) took his first ever Dakar stage win on Friday, completing the 220 km timed special in one hour 51.31. Caselli is competing in his first Dakar Rally standing in for the factory team’s injured Marc Coma.
The fast timed special at high altitude allowed Caselli to exercise his speed and skills, recently sharpened with a second place for the KTM US team in the Baja 1000. Caselli averaged a speed of 117 kmh for the 218 km of the timed special and became the first newcomer to win a stage since factory teammate Ruben Faria did it in 2006 at the start of the Dakar Rally in Portugal.
Caselli: “Everything for me was fine. I'm learning the navigation better and I can understand it. This is my first Dakar so I'm just learning a lot. I didn't have any idea what to expect when I first came here. It's fun and I'm enjoying it.”
On a day when riders first made the heady ascent up to the highest mountain pass in the Andes during the long liaison of 586 km, five top KTM riders finished in the fastest ten at the finish in Salta (Argentina) but the KTM factory team’s lead rider Cyril Despres was not among them. The French rider had some technical difficulties with the bike that hampered his speed in what should have been a very fast special and the time he sacrificed has dropped him down to fifth place in the overall standings. He now trails leader Olivier Pain by just over 14 minutes. Stage Seven and tomorrow’s Stage Eight are ‘Marathon’ stage in which riders must rely on their own mechanical knowledge in the event of problems. They overnight in a bivouac without the rest of the support team.
While it was an unlucky day for Despres, the other KTM riders who were well up the order including Chile’s ‘Chaleco’ Lopez who finished 1 minute 23 behind Caselli. The two official KTM Factory Team support riders Ruben Faria of Portugal and Joan Pedrero of Spain finished fifth and sixth. KTM Factory B team rider ‘Kuba’ Przygonski of Poland was seventh while his teammates South Africa’s Riaan Van Niekerk and Darryl Curtis were twelfth and twenty second respectively. Despres was eventually classified at thirty-fourth and now has the task of fighting his way back into the lead.
With just one stage left before the one rest day on Sunday French rider Olivier Pain leads the overall standings, followed by Lopez, David Casteu, Faria and Despres. On their last push before the rest day, riders go from Salta to San Miguel de Tucuman in Argentina on what is the longest stage in the 2013 edition. They must travel 247 km in the liaison section before a massive 491 km of timed special.
The seventh stage of the 2013 edition was marred by the death of a French rider Thomas Bourgin who was the victim of a fatal accident during the liaison section prior to the day’s special. Organizers said he was involved in a collision with a police car but no other details were announced. Bourgin was racing his first Dakar. KTM expresses sympathy to the family and friends of this rider.
-- Ben Grabham Report
Despite employing a conservative approach to the Marathon Stage, Australian KTM rider Ben Grabham posted his best Dakar Rally finish yet in today’s Stage Seven of the 14-day, 8000-kilometre epic.
Traversing a 418-kilometre Liaison Stage ascending the 4900-metre Andes Cordillera into Argentina, competitors then tackled 218 kilometres of timed section, where the HSE Motorex KTM Desert Racing Team rider rode to an impressive 11th place, climbing one step higher to 21st in the Overall rankings.
Marking the halfway point of the Dakar, the Marathon Stage refers to two consecutive days of competition where assistance from support crews is prohibited and machines are impounded in a separate bivouac, meaning a smooth, consistent run could mean the difference between finishing or not.
As he has all race, 31-year-old Grabbo continues to play his cards intelligently; "I just tried to look after the bike and the tyres for tomorrow,” he said. “I didn't push too hard and just rode smooth and safe."
The outcome could be important for Grabham, who tomorrow faces a massive 492-kilometre competitive section – the second-largest of the event - in the stage from Salta to Tucuman to conclude the Marathon Stage.
American KTM rider Kurt Caselli won today’s stage from Chilean Francisco Lopez and French rider Oliver Pain, who still leads the Dakar from Lopez and David Casteu.
-- GHR Honda Report
The route to Salta provided no real technical riding challenge but it certainly wasn't an easy day. The 218km special was a fast-paced dash along the mountain roads and tracks. Perhaps the most significant aspect of the day was the "marathon" status of the stage, meaning there was no service or contact with support crew. Extreme altitude deprived lungs and engines of oxygen for much of the day, upsetting progress for many as altitude sickness and asthmatic fueling took their toll. Combined with the frosty temperature and poor weather during the 585km liaison legs, it made for a formidable day with no creature comforts in sight at the end. The bivouac sleeping quarters consisted of a space on the floor of a gymnasium.
There's been no direct contact between the riders and the service crew since they are in different bivouacs in accordance with the marathon day rules, but Glenn Hoffmann has called in from one of the service cars. The Audi support car has been struggling in the conditions so most of the uphill transport was driven in limp mode at 20kph with the hazard lights on and warning lamps blinking. The truck made it over the top in 12 hours. The crew have a evening of relative quiet before moving again tomorrow to the bivouac San Miguel de Tucumán that will serve as home for two nights and designated rest day between them.
GHR times and placings: MOTO
35th #131 - STRANGE Warren 19h43m53s (56th for stage, +02:15:36 behind leader)
46th #156 - SMITH Todd 21h22m00s (38th for stage, +03:53:43 behind leader, +00:15:00 penalty)
68th #089 - CUMMINGS Brett 23h07m00s (37th for stage, +05:38:43 behind leader)
GHR times and placings: QUAD
13th #274 - SMITH Paul 24h08m42s (9th for stage, +04:00:09 behind leader)
Sadly there was a fatal traffic accident on the non-competitive liaison leg en route from Calama to the start of the Stage 7 special at 08:23 local time. 25 year old French #106 rider Thomas Bourgin was killed when his motorcycle collided with a Chilean police car. It was his first his first Dakar Rally and the exact circumstances of the accident are still under investigation. GHR Honda's thoughts go out to Thomas' loved ones and team mates.
Stage 08: Salta > Tucuman: We understand that due to a sudden deluge of rain there will be last minute alterations to the first section of the route. The terrain is unknown due to the imminent route change, but the bikes and quads were scheduled to cover more than 700km for the day at moderate altitudes. The original special was to cover 492km of highly variable ground including a 111km neutralised road section. In completing the only marathon leg for the 2013 rally, riders will need to balance the urge to push for positions against the risk of breaking their machines.
-- HRC Report
The Dakar circus crossed the Andes Mountains for the first time this year and entered Argentina. The first riders left Calama at 04:30 am this morning to tackle the Andes in a convoy on road section reaching the record altitude of 4,975 metres.
The 218-km long stage, that took place after having crossed the Andes on mountain tracks above 3,400 meters, was quite simple in terms of navigation but very fast.
Besides the altitude, that stressed the riders’ stamina as well as the machines, the key point today was a tactical ride in order to save the bike and the tyres for this first part of the marathon stage. Riders will in fact sleep in a separate bivouac tonight located in Cachi, where no assistance is allowed. Riders will check the bikes by themselves, they will do the necessary repairs with the tools they brought with them and can help each other.
The 7th stage was won by Kurt Caselli, who replaced Marc Coma, injured, ahead of Chaleco Lopez and Olivier Pain, who maintains the lead in the overall classification in front of Chaleco Lopez, second at 6’06” and David Casteu, third at 06’37”.
Team HRC riders rode more conservatively today in order to save the machines and the tyres and to be in their best shape for tomorrow 492-km special stage. Argentinian Javier Pizzolito finished 16th and sits now in 12th place overall, 35’07” from Pain, while team mate Helder Rodrigues finished 19th and is now in 11th position, 31’32” behind the leader. A conservative ride also for Johnny Campbell, 70th, who didn’t push too hard in order to save the machine and the tyres.
Javier Pizzolito, SS7 16th +6’41”, 12th Overall: “It was a long day and it was cold when we reached the top at 4,975 meters. The stage was very fast but easy in terms of navigation. Now I will work on the bike and I will rest because tomorrow is an important stage”.
-- Yamaha Report
After a difficult sixth day yesterday, Yamaha riders Olivier Pain and Frans Verhoeven were back running with the front pack in today’s stage, Calama to Salta. Today’s action too place above 3,300 metres, adding extra physical challenge for the already exhausted riders. Yamaha Racing France rider Pain managed to bring it home in third place, just over a minute from the front rider, the result keeps him at the top of the overall standings with a lead of just over six seconds.
Dutch Yamaha Netherlands Verhoeven Team rider Verhoeven made another step forward towards his performance of the opening stages of the rally, completing day seven in fourth place, just a few seconds behind Pain in the stage times. The result moves him another three places up the overall standings to 18th, now 50 minutes from the front.
Team Casteu Yamaha Racing France rider David Casteu was back inside the top ten today, wrapping up the stage in eighth position, three minutes from the front to hold onto his third position in the standings. The riders now have one more day of action tomorrow before a hard-earned rest day on Sunday.
A seventh day of quad action saw Yamaha Racing Argentina rider Marcos Patronelli again denied the top spot, the Argentinian missing out on stage victory by just 30 seconds. Patronelli still retains the overall lead by nearly an hour and 15 minutes.
Today’s Dakar was marked by the tragic loss of young French rider Thomas Bourgin who was fatally injured in a road collision whilst travelling between special stages.
“It's sure that with Cyril Despres's problems that gives me a significant gap for the lead, and that's a good thing for me,” said Olivier Pain. “That's just part of racing, but I'm not forgetting that it could happen to me too, so I'm not getting cocky about it, especially since Cyril has the capacity to claw back the time he's lost. So, I'm not getting ahead of myself, I'm just going to carry on like this without taking risks and enjoying myself. Today I just concentrated on my own race. With the injection system, I knew our bike wouldn't suffer too much from the altitude, so it's all been fine. I'm still in the lead, so overall it's been a good day.”
“I attacked flat out from the start today, because the Yamaha, thanks to the adjustable injection system, doesn't suffer power loss at high altitudes,” commented Frans Verhoeven. “I soon caught up with Esquerre and Despres who let me past without any problems, which was very fair-play, what with all the dust and wind. After that, I carried on attacking and riding fist up to the finish.”
”It was a very quick and short stage, one where we could go flat out because the tracks were good,” said Marcos Patronelli. “After 120 km, about half way through, the tracks were narrower and rockier, so it was a bit more difficult. It's a major step forwards, because we'll soon have the marathon stage out of the way.”
-- Husky Report
The 218 km first part of the Dakar 2013’s only marathon stage, won’t be remembered by the riders as a particularly special one. The stage presented no particular difficulties other than the dust and a navigation-heavy first part, and saw the riders approach the race with a calm and prudent attitude. The special test, at between 3000 and 3400 metres sea level, proved to be a test in itself. Alessandro Botturi was the best of the Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain riders, taking tenth place, which could prove crucial ahead of tomorrow’s second marathon leg.
Joan Barreda and Paulo Goncalves, who set off from behind had to put up with an enormous amount of dust throughout the day. Both chose not to take risks. Joan finished a dust-filled day with very little overtaking, in twenty-first place, and Paulo came in twenty-sixth. Jordi Viladoms had a bad day at the office, when during the transfer he stopped at the Lama pass border crossing some 4500 metres above sea level, where for reasons of fatigue was forced to seek aid from a medical car, and was given oxygen. Jordi managed to restart and compete in the special. Matt Fish got back to the bivouac this morning after working on his bike in the neutralization zone yesterday, and headed out on the second special in the dark. Matt didn’t throw in the towel as he realises how important it’s going to be for his team-mates to have his support over the next few days.
Tonight the riders will camp out in Cachi, without the mechanics, and will thus have to do any work on their TE449RRs by Speedbrain themselves. They set off again tomorrow at 05.50 for another long stage, which is expected to be a complicated one.
The seventh stage of the Dakar has been marred by the death of the young French rider, Thomas Bourgin, 25, involved in a fatal accident during the long transfer. The Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain sends condolences to the family.
The second leg of the marathon from Salta to San Miguel de Tucuman is predicted to be the toughest stage of the entire Dakar 2013. A total of 739km (461 miles) including 492 special test, which will take the form of two separate parts. After the special there will be a 228 km transfer to the camp where the riders have their rest day on the 13th January.
Alessandro Botturi: “It was a fairly calm stage, even if it was very long. I didn’t take any risks and didn’t push too much, as we were at such a high altitude and it wouldn’t have been right to overdo things. Starting out tenth suits me fine for tomorrow’s stage as it’s an important one and I want to attack.”
Paulo Goncalves: “I tried to get past the slower riders who started ahead of me but it was really tricky. It was just too dusty and dangerous. I managed to overtake three riders, but then I decided it was better not to take any chances, and so I sat in behind the group.“
Joan Barreda: “It was impossible to overtake today in the special, because there really was so much dust. I took it easy as my hand was causing me problems and I didn’t want to mess everything up before tomorrow’s special. This evening I will take something for the swelling, because I want to be in good shape for tomorrow’s important stage.”
Result Stage 7:
1. Caselli (USA, KTM) 1h51m31s
2. Lopez (CHL, KTM) +00:01:23
3. Pain (FRA, Yamaha) +00:01:23
4. Verhoeven (NLD, Yamaha) +00:01:30
5. Faria (PRT, KTM) +00:02:30
10. Alessandro Botturi (ITA, Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain) +00:04:39
21. Joan Barreda (ESP, Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain) +00:09:21
26. Paulo Goncalves (PRT, Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain) +00:10:17
44. Matt Fish (AUS, Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain) +00:21:11
Overall Standings after seven stages:
1. Pain (FRA, Yamaha) 17h28m17s
2. Lopez (CHL, KTM) +00:06:06
3. Casteu (FRA, Yamaha) +00:06:37
4. Faria (PRT, KTM) +00:09:42
5. Despres (FRA, KTM) +00:14:07
9. Alessandro Botturi (ITA, Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain) +00:30:18
25. Paulo Goncalves (PRT, Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain) +01:38:08
44. Joan Barreda (ESP, Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain) +03:47:30
139. Matt Fish (AUS, Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain) +22:41:04
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