The hardest of the hard Annie Seel is used to hard luck. For example, the Swedish biker, amongst other motorcycling adventures, finished the Dakar in 2002 with a broken hand after injuring herself on the fourth day of the race. She will not be...
The hardest of the hard
Annie Seel is used to hard luck. For example, the Swedish biker, amongst other motorcycling adventures, finished the Dakar in 2002 with a broken hand after injuring herself on the fourth day of the race. She will not be ready to forget the stage between Neuquen and San Rafael, which started to become a nightmare after 350 km of the special stage: "I had a nasty fall, which made my day absolutely infernal. My helmet was damaged, I had a nose bleed, a bust lip, and especially the bike was in a really bad state. The brake cable was stuck in the front wheel and the mud guard was shattered so I took it off. What's more, my handlebars were all bent. When I arrived at the dunes section, I couldn't handle the bike properly, because I'm too small, so I took off the seat and left it there. I think I must have fallen at least a hundred times!" It was just at the same time as it started to rain and hail on the special stage route. This little lady, who is only five foot two, could hardly imagine that the situation could get any worse: "When I saw the weather, I told myself to just take everything as it comes, thinking back to the Dakar in 2002 when I was wondering how I managed to finish with a broken hand. Thinking 'you managed to do it then, so you can do it today' helped me through. What surprised me the most is that for the first time on the Dakar, I brought a spare helmet with me!"
1978: a lasting vintage
Amongst the 837 competitors taking part in the Dakar 2009, 10 came into being in the same year as the Dakar, in 1978. After the 4th stage, only two of them had abandoned the race prematurely: Chinese biker Ganghui Wei and Russian co-pilot Kirill Shubin, a member of Pavel Loginov's crew. Out of those left in the race, in this rather special ranking, Uruguayan rider Lazard is in the lead on the bikes, and 22nd in the general standings after the Neuquen stage. In the car category, Guerlain Chicherit is the leading member of these new thirty-somethings, but with his 55th position at Neuquen, the native of the Sayoy region in France and member of the X-Raid team has Spaniard Juan Miguel Fidel Medero, behind the wheel of a Toyota, hot on his tail!
Number 13 for the USA
With his victory in San Rafael, Jonah Street gave the USA its 13th special stage victory. What's more, he became the 5th American stage victor on a bike on the Dakar. The first victory for the States came in 1985, when Chuck Stearns carried off 6 special victories and finished his only Dakar in 6th place in the general standings. Thereafter, Americans had to wait until the 1990's to see the illustrious Danny Laporte win 3 special stages (in '92, '95 and '97), even threatening Peterhansel's position en route toward The Cape. Another emblematic figure of US rally raid history, Jimmy Lewis picked up two special stage victories in 2000 before achieving a podium finish 6 years later. More recently, Kellon Walch grabbed a special stage victory at the Lac Rose Lake in 2005.