The Flying Dutchman... rally-raid style! "This is new for me but I love it". Jurgen Van Den Goorbergh was more used to MotoGP tracks and five-star hotels than to the sand dunes of the Atacama desert and the tent at the bivouac. The Dutchman...
The Flying Dutchman... rally-raid style!
"This is new for me but I love it". Jurgen Van Den Goorbergh was more used to MotoGP tracks and five-star hotels than to the sand dunes of the Atacama desert and the tent at the bivouac. The Dutchman raced for 7 seasons at the highest level in speed bike racing but he certainly did get used to the Dakar he is discovering this year. Best proof is his 19th place in the general standings just two special stages shy of the finish. "My MotoGP expertise brings me a lot in this rally-raid. My advantage is that I can drive fast and think at the same time. At 300km/h, you must be able to make the right decisions fast. I can focus on several things like navigation or the traces to follow at the same time." Already convinced by this new discipline, the one who used to be called the "Flying Dutchman" on the speed biking scene is thinking about new challenges: "If the Dakar goes back to Africa, I will keep the bike, if we come back here, I will do it in a car..."
In Cordoba without the pros!
For many former WRC drivers present at the start in Buenos Aires, the Cordoba stage seemed like a delightful journey back in time. If the route of the Dakar only takes part of the trail formerly used for the Argentinian stage of the World Championship, Miki Biasion, who won three times in Cordoba, would have loved going back to his roots,unfortunately the Italian withdrew from the raid at stape 5! The most disappointed of all on this Dakar will most certainly remain Carlos Sainz, who would have completed his triumph on the tracks of his past successes. The Madrid driver, who was 10 times on the podium - with three victories - in Cordoba, has openly regretted his absence at the planned rendez-vous with his fans: "People know me well in Cordoba and I was waiting for this moment... But that's life!"
He did it
For Eric Palante, yesterday started with a text message on his cell phone. A friend called Marc sent him these two words in English: "Do it!" It's not that Eric is necessarily versed into English phrases but these two words stayed with him through the whole stage. "The pace was not regular. The waypoins were hard to find. The sand was too soft. It's my 6th Dakar but yesterday was really rough. And when it was too hard, I just screamed 'Do it! Do it!'. I never shout in English. But this text message I got in the morning was so strong... it really helped me finish." Then there was a tough moment where he did not depart from the spirit of the Dakar. At about 2/3 of the way, somewhere in the dunes, he saw someone waving: "It was Annie Seel. She was out of gas. A tiny little lady like that, lost in the sand, you just have to stop. I siphoned my gas to help her. Then I turned the engine back on. But I had not put the connection back in the right position so I was loosing what was left of my gas. I had to ask policemen on their small Hondas to give me some gas, then a Hungarian biker from the Dakar gave me half a litre, then the driver of an old truck gave me two litres in a big bottle of Coke. They were all so nice. I could not pay them. I had to sign autographs instead." Finally, Eric just fondly recalls the day and says in a smile. "That picture is just awesome! Normally, I only drink wine or beer!"