A catch up ride, an emergency signal and political problems Did today decide about the outcome of the rally? Most likely it did so because once again the political situation mixes with the sporty decision. You'll read about it later on. Two...
A catch up ride, an emergency signal and political problems
Did today decide about the outcome of the rally? Most likely it did so because once again the political situation mixes with the sporty decision. You'll read about it later on.
Two men took advantage of the longest special (736 km) in this year's Dakar and gained time on the leaders: Cyril Despres and Alfie Cox. After finishing the first part of the marathon-stage, both of them had arrived in a bad mood at the bivouac in Tidjikja yesterday. Today they were going for it. Cyril Despres knew that he had to make up leeway on this long and difficult stage if he wanted to keep a minimal chance for the leadership in the overall standings. And today he has managed to do so. Despres claims the victory on this burdensome course. "It was definitely a great day for me. I had already passed many of the riders in front of me at CP 1 (km 236). The sand was fast and I quickly caught up with Nani and the others." Despres, Roma, Cox, Meoni and Sainct rode in a "convoy" for several hundreds of kilometers through the desert. Something else made Despres happy as well. "I was able to cope with my problems today. After 550 kilometers I ran into some difficulties with my electric. Luckily I was able to repair it. And at kilometer 600 it got difficult to navigate. But else than yesterday I stayed calm and found the right track."
Alfie Cox, too, was riding at a good pace and finished in 2nd place. He was even able to diminish his time gap on Roma who had lost more than 26 minutes in the overalls. However, the Spaniard was able to defend his leadership by a few minutes. He lies 3'33 minutes ahead of Richard Sainct (2nd) and about 28 minutes ahead of Alvie Cox (3rd). So far nothing is decided yet.
However, politics could possibly have called for a preliminary decision. Tomorrow and the day after tomorrow's stage have been cancelled by the officials due to "political difficulties". French and Mali's authorities have asked the A.S.O. to avoid racing in the north of Mali. There have not been given any more detailed explanations to the teams during briefing.
Now it means that about 800 kilometers are taken out of the valuation. With that an extremely difficult navigation towards Mopti has been canceled. According to the officials the "toughest stage" to Bobo Diouiasso on Sunday will also not happen. Richard Sainct is pretty mad about it, "This is a bad decision for me. The stages will be missing for my results. I cannot make up time because during these two days and I would have had chances to do so."
Tomorrow the motor bikes are being loaded on trucks and the riders will fly to Bamako, Mali's capitol. On Sunday they will go on to Bobo Dioulasso where they can enjoy the rest day on Monday. On Tuesday they will start as planned on the 12th stage from Dioulasso to Bamako.
Winfried Kerschhaggl, KTM's head of marketing, imagines that there is at least one further reason for the cancellation of the stages. "After three difficult successive stages the harshness of the rally has become obvious today. We are talking about strains that brought the riders to their limits. Most of the private riders overextended themselves. The official's decision to neutralize the next two days is only right. It will keep up the standards of the race."
This harshness, Winfried Kerschhaggl, was talking about could also be seen among the KTM teams. At first Scot Harden crashed and broke the ankle of his left foot. A while later, Jean Brucy dropped out of the race. "The crash wasn't that bad at all. I simply fell in a stupid way." Brucy broke his right collarbone.
Richard Sainct seemed bewildered, "Jean was performing so great this year. He did have a chance to claim his place on the podium. It is unbelievably tragic. I feel sorry and I mean it as a friend. Of course I will miss Jean also as a rider. He has always helped me when I had technical problems."
Fabrizio Meoni did have to battle with technical problems today. The brackets for his instruments broke about 150 km before the finish. "The vibrations were simply too much. I could not look into my road book any longer. First I tried to repair the bracket, but it wouldn't work. Afterwards I had problems with the fast orientation." The Italian lost almost one hour to today's winner Despres.