Today the KTM team-rider had to ride 545 kilometers on their bikes. The route offered no challenges and no difficulties. It was just a liaison on a tarred road. Around noon the teams arrived at the bivouac in Bobo-Dioulasso. The rally-crews have...
Today the KTM team-rider had to ride 545 kilometers on their bikes. The route offered no challenges and no difficulties. It was just a liaison on a tarred road. Around noon the teams arrived at the bivouac in Bobo-Dioulasso. The rally-crews have now reached Burkina-Faso. Among the crowd:
Riding along was also a small woman with a great potential. Yuki Tanaka is the only woman on a motorbike who has made it so far. The 31-year-old Japanese woman participates for the first time at the Dakar rally. For the giant task she chose a KTM and also booked the support-package with the manufacturer from Mattighofen. If you watch Yuki, you can't help but marvel about her. The woman is 1.60 meter tall, weighs 53 kg and just loves the challenge. For example, she took on the task to cross the desert on a KTM 660 Rally. "I like the desert and I love motorbikes," explains Yuki, who looks scarred and bruised from her crashes. "I suppose that has got to do with my job as a journalist for several motorcycle magazines." The delicate KTM-rider collected first experiences in the desert in Dubai and Morocco. However, riding the Dakar rally is a whole new experience for her. And it also has its grim sides. Until noon today the Japanese was hoping to continue the rally after the rest day. "I'm missing a stamp from CP 2 from the stage on Friday," explains Yuki, "I hope the jury can accept that. It really was a brutal special after all. And I really want to go on. Overall I'm gratified with everything, my motorbike, my mechanic and with the support I receive from KTM. I can just hope and pray." Unfortunately, all hope was in vain. This afternoon the jury decided that Yuki Tanaka is cancelled from the race. As a small comfort she's allowed to fly along to Dakar and to experience the end of the rally by the end of next week. At the moment the small Japanese woman is very disappointed.
At the afternoon in Bobo-Dioulasso the managers of the KTM manufacturer-teams debated about the brand new KTM team-standings. All teams, but the Spanish one have lost one rider. Gio Salo is missing among the International team, Jean Brucy among the French team and Scot Harden among the US-team. The two fastest riders from each team are taken into the valuation. Only the Spanish team is still in the position to have the advantage of three riders. The Spaniards seem to be bundled in the most perfect way. After all Nani Roma, the current leader of the overall standings, is a member of their team.
This is what the present team-standing looks like:
(Points are rewarded to the two fastest members of a team for their performance that day, e.g. place 4 is rewarded 4 points):
1st Team Repsol KTM Spain 62 points
2nd Team Gauloises KTM France 67 points
3rd Team Gauloises KTM International 113 points
4th Team Red Bull USA KTM 277 points
Jordi Arcarons, manager of the Team Repsol KTM Spain, is content with these preliminary results, "The team-standings are very important to us. We want that our sponsors, who really support us, are satisfied with our performance. That is exactly why I'm just going to find out why Isidre was given a one hour penalty. Even without that he is already several hours behind. We really want to make a great impression at his Dakar rally."
Gilles Salvador (Team Gauloises KTM France) is more concerned about the rankings of each rider. "It is a sport for individuals after all. Richard has a chance to win. And Cyril, too, could stand on the podium. For us it is already a success if one member of the team ranks among the top three finalists." Richard Sainct adds, "The only thing that counts is the individual victory. If we rank among the best as a team as well, it is even better. But I think it is a great idea for the private riders. Due to the team-standings it will be easier for them to step in the spotlight."
Guiliano Cecconi (Team Gauloises KTM International) thinks alike. "Yeah, the team-standings. We will see how it will end up. Unfortunately, we have lost Gio. But we still got Alfie and Fabrizio. There are still stages coming up when Fabrizio can make the best use of his skills. We will see how everything will develop. As a team manager, I want most of all that both of the remaining riders reach Dakar."
It is the same goal that is also most important to the Dakar-newcomers from the United States. They want to obtain a good reputation for themselves to have something to show for back home. Joe Barker, coordinator of the Team Red Bull KTM USA, "It is most important for us to reach the finish line at Dakar. Unfortunately, Scot had to drop out of the race. As rookies we are collecting lots and lots of experience at the Dakar rally. This will be highly important for the future. After all we want to raise the Dakar's fame back home. It will already be a great success for us if one of our riders ranks among the top 10. That will mean that we rank up front as a team as well."
Last night, Scot Harden flew from Bamako to Paris and afterwards to Los Angeles. Saying good bye was tough. "It was a great adventure for me. I was able to collect many new experiences and we all became a great big family. Never had I thought that the Dakar is so extraordinary. There are so many nations and they all get along so well. It is like the whole world has shrunk together. I am really happy to have been part of it, even when I had to drop out of the race. I hope that others from the States do want to experience the adventure Dakar just like we did. I want to thank everyone who has supported us rookies: Carlo de Gavardo, Hans Trunkenpolz, Claudia Patuzzi, the Spanish riders -- simply everyone. Thank you very much."
Tomorrow it is the official rest-day at Bobo-Diolasso. We will keep you updated with news from the bivouac.