-- Dakar 2013, Rest day - San Miguel de Tucuman (Argentina)
-- Husky Report
And on the seventh day even the Dakar shalt rest… San Miguel de Tucuman in Argentina plays host today to the rest day for all the participants in the thirty-fifth edition of this fascinating rally. A muggy, hot day of 30°C (86°F). The Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain riders are taking a well deserved rest in their hotel after running eight stages, and some 4000 km. Meanwhile, the mechanics and technicians have been up since seven o’clock this morning working so that the four Husqvarna TE499RR by Speedbrain will be at their best for tomorrow.
With three victories in the bag for Joan Barreda, a second place for Paulo Goncalves and two fourth places for Alessandro Botturi, these are fine spoils indeed for the riders of the Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedrain. Italian Alessandro Botturi, Husqvarna’s best rider so far sits in twelfth overall, only thirty-six minutes behind the leading rider, in the standings which have very little difference between the leaders. Further down after same technical setbacks in the first few days of racing are Paulo Goncalves (23rd) and Joan Barreda (41st), positions that don’t really do justice to the real performance made by these riders so far in this Rally.
Project Leader at BMW Motorrad, Berthold Hauser gives his assessment after a week of racing: “Currently the leader board doesn’t reflect the real situation or the potential of this team. The bikes are going really well and they’ve proved themselves to be powerful and capable of high speeds. The riders have shown their riding capability and navigating skill in a rally as difficult as the Dakar. Unfortunately we are not in the running for the top places due to a few technical problems that we came up against early on, but we have shown that we are able to finish every stage amongst the leaders. In the second part we’ll do what ever is necessary to try and support Alessandro who’s highest in the overall standings, as well as the other riders in every stage. The Dakar is a unique race and the experience that it offers is unrepeatable and incomparable with those of any other rally in the world. It’s an experience that ought to be seized as it only comes once a year.”
It should be highlighted that all the riders of the Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain are on the leader board, and are ready to start out tomorrow from San Miguel de Tocuman for the second part of the Rally.
Another really long stage awaits tomorrow San Miguel De Tucuman - Cordoba some 852 km (532 miles) of which 593 km are timed.
-- HRC Report
The Dakar circus has reached the green bivouac of San Miguel de Tucuman after 8 demanding stages that saw the riders tackling all kind of terrains, from the big dunes of the Peruvian desert to the arid landscape of Argentina, after having crossed the Andes Mountains with a stage in Chile.
The Dakar has been tough from day 1 and as challenging and unpredictable as usual. Competitors are enjoying a well deserved rest day to recharge their batteries while the mechanics keep working on the bikes as the race is still long and open.
Good team work for the HRC squad on their debut at the Dakar in South America. It's a new project, a new team and a new machine for HRC and on the rest day it’s time for assessment.
Javier Pizzolito, 10th overall: “A 10th place overall is a good result for me. I have tried to ride consistently trying to respect the machine and my body because we still have 6 long days ahead. We have done good team work, supporting Helder and helping each other. We had several issues with the machine in the first stages, but were able to make adjustments to the bike and continue”.
Helder Rodrigues, 13th overall: “Dakar is a long challenging race and you have to take it a day at a time. We had some problems on the second and third days that made us lose valuable time but the race is still open and I will continue to fight with the same great determination. As riders we have to maintain our concentration for many hours as we are alone in the desert, we need to trust ourselves, making the right decisions at the right time, being fast but with an eye always on the roadbook. Not only are we riders, we need to have mechanical skills to repair the machine if something happens in the stage. This is what makes the Dakar so special”.
Johnny Campbell, 67th overall: “This first half of the race has been inconsistent for my positions and results, but this mainly because of the new team and my position as chase rider. In my career I have always been consistent whereas here I have finished 24th, 38th, 70th and yesterday second. The problem with the fuel system on day 3 spoiled my race as I lost more than 3 hours but the target was to finish the stage and support Helder, who is the more experienced and most competent rider in the team, despite my personal result”.
Henk Hellegers, Team Manager: “we had some fueling issues on days 2 and 3 that had big consequences in terms of results as we lost a lot of time and contact with the front riders, but the riders did a very good team job helping each other. We are collecting data that will help us to continue the development of the machine and gaining experience for all kind of terrains and altitude as there is no test that can reproduce race conditions. This is a young project, that started only 6 months ago. Everyone is working hard and there is a lot of potential. The race is still open and we are confident that we can progress”.
-- KTM Report
Teams and riders in the Dakar caravan spent Sunday working on their bikes and preparing for the second half of the 8000 km trip on a north-south trajectory from Lima to Santiago, Chile after what has been an eventful first eight stages that has left all options open.
The 2013 edition of the Dakar Rally was always going to be eventful for the KTM factory teams right from the moment it was clear that Marc Coma stalwart team member to his biggest rival, Cyril Despres of France would not be competing. Coma was ruled out of contention around a week before the start of the rally when doctors declared he was not fully recovered from a shoulder injury incurred in a crash during the Morocco Rally. It was a bitter disappointment to the Spanish rider, and that left the team and fans alike bereft of what is always a magnificent fight between these teammates who are recognized as the two best riders in the world.
When the field of almost 200 riders left Lima on January 5 on the trek south, there was everything to play for. Organizers promised that the first half of the rally – four stages in Peru, a brief foray into Chile then across the Andes into Argentina - would be tough and there were certainly plenty of surprises as lead riders jockeyed for positions with both speed and tactics. Despres, a superb tactician, was playing his cards close to his chest and expected to make a break on Stage Seven, the first half of the two marathon days where riders were not allowed any outside assistance from their support teams. Then Despres had some mechanical issues and rode a good part of the seventh stage without his fifth gear, eventually struggling home in thirty-fourth place.
With one more day of the marathon to go the team decided to take some radical action. Thanks to the support and generosity of KTM supported rider Marek Dabrowski and the Orlen Team, Cyril was offered the generous ‘loan’ of the engine from Marek’s bike. What followed was a remarkable display of team spirit as Cyril and the riders of the KTM factory teams set about working through the night to switch engines on the two bikes.
Cyril Despres: “Already the decision to swap engines was a difficult one, but once we made it we actually had to put the plan into action. You could see that the other riders were a little surprised when we started work! Some people say that the Dakar isn’t the same anymore, but I tell you that night was the real spirit of the Dakar.”
Cyril got back in the race for Stage Eight, ironically shortened to half the planned timed special because of heavy overnight rain, with the intention of making up lost ground. Then, in an extraordinary turn of events, many of the leading group got lost in the last part of the special and this worked in Cyril’s favor. After adding the mandatory 15 minutes penalty for having changed his engine Cyril heads into the second half of the rally in fifth place with a deficit of around 24.5 minutes on the current overall leader, Frenchman David Casteu, and everything is still to play for.
Despite the setback for Despres, the KTM factory riders are doing exceptionally well so far. Ruben Faria is second overall and KTM rider Chaleco Lopez of Chile is third overall. There are six KTM riders in the top 10 and 11 in the top 20. American KTM factory rider Kurt Caselli, who was drafted in at the eleventh hour to ride in place of the injured Coma has been doing brilliantly and picked up his first stage win in Stage Seven. Team manager Alex Doringer was quick to praise both the team spirit and the efforts of all the factory riders.
Doringer: “There has been great teamwork and team spirit and the Ruben and Joan Pedrero are doing a great job. I am really pumped to see how well Caselli is doing as a newcomer and the Factory B Team (Darryl Curtis and Riaan Van Niekerk of South Africa and ‘Kuba’ Przygonski of Poland) are all doing great. We all know that the Dakar is not won in the first half; it’s won in Santiago at the finish line. Tomorrow will be long, difficult and fast. This should suit Cyril and I think he will be pushing. That means taking some risks but I am convinced that the he and the team will continue to do well.”
All seven official KTM factory riders - Despres, Faria, Pedrero, Caselli, Curtis, Van Niekerk and Przygonski - are in the top 20, together with another four KTM riders.
Stage Nine continues in Argentina and takes riders from Tucuman to Cordoba and they will ride for 852 km including another long timed special of 593 km – the longest stage in the 2013 edition that will deliver plenty of challenges to the remaining 139 riders.
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