Over the longest day
It was the longest day on the 28th Dakar Rallye, which unfortunately ran its course with a tragic accident, where Andy Caldecott, Australian biker, suffered a severe accident at high speed and died. Only Akos Varga knew about the accident before the finish line, because not much after it happened he was passing by and seen the puzzled faces of doctors.
Monday's stage was not only the longest but supposedly the stiffest as well, that is what the Balazs Szalay - Laszlo Bunkoczi dual said, completing the distance first from among Hungarian car units. The race truck driven by Zsolt Darazsi finished the stage luckily as well, however on Tuesday they arrived to camp at 4 in the morning. For bikers the day's stage was cancelled, only trucks and cars had to complete it.
Balazs Szalay, Laszlo Bunkoczi (Opel Frontera, 40th)
We had to set off from the back due to technological problems before the day-off, which was topped by a puncture not much after the start. Zsolti with the truck passed us by, and after that we managed to dig ourselves into the sand at the very first occasion. Luckily we lost only ten minutes with this, unlike a lot later where we couldn't get pass a sandy road and digged ourselves in again into deeper sand this time. We were digging for an hour, and since we were off the track, we had no chance of anyone coming to help us. The stage otherwise was extremely tiring, full of dunes and camel grass. After Checkpoint 1 we had to change the stub axle, and when darkness fell we still had 200 kilometers to take, including a steep wailing wall which we could climb onto for the first try. Following that it was just shaky, shaky and shaky. If I had to send in my application for the next Dakar right now, I'm not so sure they could make me do so...
Akos Varga (KTM, 41st)
The stage was tougher than I expected and remembered. I had to concentrate continuously and fully for 600 kilometers, and it was impossible to ride with elan since that way the track would have shook me to pieces. I was even enjoying the first 200 kilometers, but then my hands started to ache and stones started to grow in my stomach.
We set off at the start in reverse order, but manufacturers' racers got us and passed by pretty soon. This way Andy Caldecott was already ahead of me when the accident happened. I knew something was very wrong when I saw him lying there five meters from his bike, in a rather twisted position, while doctors were talking at the helicopter. I knew they would be all around him if they could have helped. It was a heart-breaking situation, but there was no time to deal with that then, we had to go on. I simply do not know why it had happened. There was a bit of wind over-blow at the rapid rubble road, but we had at least thirty other ones before. Maybe that was where he lost balance, I'm not sure. It is an awful feeling since he was my favorite. He came from nowhere and made it to the top right away.
Zsolt Darazsi, Norbert Szalai, Gyorgy Rack (MAN, 14th)
We had no technological problems, moved as we could. Once we helped Balazs and Laci changing a stub axle, but we did not lose much time with that, by the time we got there they already took the Opel apart. by the end however all three of us got exhausted. It surprised me that we finished as 14th, it seems like the other ones had more problems.