Australian triumph and Spanish tears There she was, the first African stage. And she was quite cruel. One of the young Spanish matadors had to already give up today. Jordi Duran's dream of arriving in Dakar suddenly vanished in the Moroccan sand.
Australian triumph and Spanish tears
There she was, the first African stage. And she was quite cruel. One of the young Spanish matadors had to already give up today. Jordi Duran's dream of arriving in Dakar suddenly vanished in the Moroccan sand. Going high speed, Jordi happened to fall really hard off his bike just before CP 1. He broke his thigh and additionally has an open fracture in his forearm. Because of this, he was flown to a hospital in Agadir right away.
It is a sad moment for Jordi who had planned so much more. Also a great shock for his teammates Marc Coma, Isidre Esteve and Gio Sala. "It was a typical Moroccan stage", said Marc Coma later in the bivouac. "Stones everywhere. If you don't pay attention for one single moment, then this is it. I know exactly how Jordi must feel now. Last year I dropped out after falling badly as well. Not only am I really sorry for Jordi because he is my friend but also because he is a great teammate. He has always livened things up and always smiled. It is such a pity."
Coma himself did great on the rocky track. He came in second in today's ranking. Only 3 seconds faster than him was the Australian Andy Caldecott. Caldecott had been on a few top places in the previous year already. But today he was quite surprised of his success. "Actually, I drove very carefully due to the sharp stones. Additionally, there was an instruction in the road book every couple of meters, therefore one needed to be very concentrated. That's why I really didn't expect this result." Andy Caldecott had to give up the race after falling down and breaking his ankle a year ago in Atar. This year he definitely wants to reach Dakar. "That's my first priority. And if everything goes well, I would like to be under the top 5."
Alfie Cox was just as satisfied with his race as Andy Caldecott today. Coming in almost six minutes behind Caldecott he ranks 4th place. But: Everything still went well. My shoulder doesn't hurt anymore which was most important on this first real stage. I also had to slow down 40 km before the finish line. The mousse in the back wheel was damaged."
Scott Harden was fighting against the material- consuming- course, too. 160 km before the finish he had a stone flying into his back break disc. Thus, he couldn't use the break anymore. "That obviously was a huge drawback", as claimed by the American team manager. "I wasn't able to risk anything anymore and I lost almost half an hour."
Although he came in third, Cyril Despres walked through the bivouac really unsatisfied. His two trip masters played a trick on him and indicated different data which didn't quite facilitate the orientation on this rather fast track. And then he felt he was put at a disadvantage by the organizers. Claudia Patuzzi, team manager, explains: "Cyril claims to have been at the CP 2 one minute before Marc Coma and to have gotten gas just as everyone else. But the commissioners supposedly put him back on track together with Marc. We will now check this on the basis of the course records."
Nevertheless, due to his fast speed Marc Coma took over the lead in the overall standing today. On the following places are Andy Caldecott (+ 0'43) and Cyril Despres (+2'45).
Tomorrow there will be a very difficult and also long course of 492 km waiting for the drivers. Zouerat, Mauritania, is the destination. Whoever loves dunes and knows how to navigate quite well will love that challenge. The others could be loosing a lot of time within the dunes...
Finally there is a real testing in Africa! The special with a length of 381 km was a very fast course with a few tough bits. The drivers had to hellishly pay attention in order to be able to deal with the change between hard ground, stony tracks, rocks and soft sand. Additionally and for the first time in the this year's Dakar, the drivers were asked for their navigation skills. All of these reasons turned this particular stage in Morocco into a real Dakar- testing. The field of drivers has been mixed up quite well.
For KTM, the day was full of ups and downs. Andy Caldecott, team KTM Motorex Australia, proofed to be the fastest driver in the desert. The 40-year-old Australian needed 4 hours and 9 seconds to ride the 381 km. Caldecott had been able to catch up with Marc Coma at the CP 1 after only 101 km, although Coma had started 2 minutes before him. But Marc Coma was able to counterattack and came in second only 3 seconds behind. Therefore the man, team KTM Repsol-Red Bull, was decisively faster than Despres and Cox, who had started before him. At least, Cyril Despres was able to rank third, being 3'30 behind Caldecott. He surely couldn't have been satisfied with this result particularly because Cyril had to deal with a technical problem: He has two mileage indicators on his bike. But both trip masters showed different data and were naturally quite confusing to Cyril. In the finish though, it turned out that one of the trip masters had been broken.
The Spanish driver Jordi Duran, team KTM Repsol-Red Bull is missing on this list. Unfortunately, the Dakar is over for him. The 25-year-old fell really badly just before the first check point. The diagnosis of the doctors is: break in the head of the femur and broken collarbone. Jordi is already taken care of in a hospital.