The dip from hell The finish at Iquique was marked by a vertiginous dip of almost 3km. The site has become one of the top spots of rally raid and now of the Dakar too... Before becoming one of the most spectacular sites of the 2010 edition of...
The dip from hell
The finish at Iquique was marked by a vertiginous dip of almost 3km. The site has become one of the top spots of rally raid and now of the Dakar too...
Before becoming one of the most spectacular sites of the 2010 edition of the Dakar, the descent of the Iquique great sant dune the competitors slid down at the finish of stage 6 was already amongst the classical spots of the Por las Pampas Rally. Tiziano Siviero, who was the master organizer of this rally before joining in the Dakar team, had discovered the impressive slide a bit by change. "I was with a guy from the area; he took me here by night telling me 'you'll see, it's a nice dip' but I had no idea what to expect. Even in the dark I was completely taken aback. Since then this place has become a reference", recalls Tiziano. By the way, the geographical data of La Bajada de Los Verdes (the name of the small village by the sea) speak for themselves: 900 m difference in height between the top and the bottom over 2.5 km, i.e. a 36% incline! By a way of comparison the steepest areas of the famous Mur de Huy, that tend to break down cycling champions racing the Flèche Wallonne, are at 24-25%...only.
When it was time to design the 2010 route, Tiziano naturally suggested this particular finish to David Castera, who was struck by the beauty of the scenery: "The fact of adding the magnificence of the sea landscape to the feeling of speed makes this slide down exceptional", explains David, who was immediately convinced when he did the recon tour. It remains that to dip into that slide minimum technique is required. If each driver or rider has its own variation on the theme, they all agree on leaving maximum freedom to the vehicle. David Fretigne summarizes the way he deals with it on his bike: "stand towards the back of the bike and always keep a little bit of horse power in reserve. Don't break too hard, certainly not with the front brakes." As for Miguel Puertas, biker and jet pilot in the Spanish army, he says: "It's almost like flying because of the way you have to stare at the sea during the descent". As for his countryman Xavier Foj, who is leader in the car T2 category, he adds: "I decided that the safest method would be to go down as fast as possible. I was doing more than 120 km/h". The day's speed record went nevertheless to Carlos Sainz, who had a hard time hiding his emotion after reaching a speed of 130 km/h where the incline is the steepest.
The two-time WRC champion remains however pretty far from the absolute record established by a man familiar of the location and called Nani Roma as he was racing the Por las Pampas Rally. His former teammate Luc Alphand remembers perfectly of the challenges of this sand slide: "the first year, we did not go too fast; we just did 110-120 km/h because it was a bit scary. But then we came back here to test our Mitsu and we ended up knowing it by heart. So the second time, I drove down at 150 km/h but Nani got to 170 km/h". If the Spaniard did not have the opportunity of breaking his speed record this year with the BMW X3, as he withdrew after stage 4, he remains the master of speed on this sand slide.