Dakar: KTM stage one report

Hot prelude at the cold beach of Barcelona "If we cannot manage to bring home the first five places in Dakar, it would be a huge disappointment to us," said KTM-long-established Heinz Kinigadner. Because of this statement, Kini set the tone for...

Hot prelude at the cold beach of Barcelona

"If we cannot manage to bring home the first five places in Dakar, it would be a huge disappointment to us," said KTM-long-established Heinz Kinigadner. Because of this statement, Kini set the tone for the KTM-teams.

All the pointers are in favor of winning. Despite of looking so undemanding, the six kilometers of this first racing day at the beach of Barcelona challenged everyone.

An old hand like Fabrizio Meoni has his own recipe: "One needs to keep a cool head and one should, by no means, already use all power to risk a thing on this first short sand stage." Thus, Meoni managed well on his 47th birthday. He finished only 30 seconds behind the winner.

The Frenchman David Fretigne, who rode on Yamaha, was able to gain the opening victory just like in the year before. Someone, who is seen as the favorite of the this year's Dakar by many people, was hard on his heels: Cyril Despres. "The ride today was a lot of fun. Finally it is happening. But I see no favorite in this race. Something unexpected can happen every day. I know what I am talking about."

Dakar newcomer Chris Blais had a lot of fun as well: "The ride in the sand was brilliant." Blais (38th), he and his teammate, Kellon Walch (5th) made a big impression on KTM- team manager Hans Trunkenpolz. "These guys are hotheads. They cut an excellent figure in the sand. We can follow with keen interest of what there is ahead."

Not all KTM- pilots had a good day. Particularly, Giovanni Sala stayed far behind. " My clutch stopped working about 100 m close to the finish line. I was also incapable of starting the bike and had to push it into the finish." And even through deep sand and over a hill, set up just in front of the finish. His teammates Marc Coma and Isidre Esteve helped Sala on the last meters. "I don't see it as a big drama for the rally, yet.", claimed Sala. "It is only annoying that I have to start in the dust of the others in Africa."

Alfie Cox came into the finish with a swollen neck. Only 50 m after just having started the race, did Alfie bang into a sand covered concrete block and fell. Fuming with anger and with pain in his shoulder, he came into the finish. "I fell right on the ball-and-socket joint. Every move hurts right now." The doctors will have a closer look at the joint during the evening. Let's hope the Dakar isn't over for Alfie before it even started.

For tomorrow, the drivers can expect a long connecting stage going from Barcelona to Granada. The course with a length of 920 km runs solely on highways. Even for this seemingly easy task, does the long-established Dakar driver Fabrizio Meoni have a hint: "Ride with your head and keep cool so that no mistakes happen -- even if it is only asphalt. But above all, stick to the speed limit so that you don't land any penalties, yet."

Therefore: Have a good trip in the new year!

3:30 p.m.
This is a rather unusual New Year's Eve for the Dakar: Because the first ranking, the prologue at the beach of Barcelona, still took place in the old year. The 237 motorbike pilots had to manage 50 km. The prologue was, just as always, a very special race. The drivers really have to pay attention that nothing happens to them and their bikes. No crash is being risked in order to avoid any physical or mechanical damage. Though, the fans are expecting a show at the same time. Thousands of people lined up next to the course to be able to watch their favorites.

6 km were judged and, just like in the previous year, the Frenchmen David Fretigne was able to be the fastest in this "show-race" on a Yamaha right at the beach. He raged along the course in 4 minutes and 11 seconds. Cyril Despres, Team KTM Gauloises), only needed 8 seconds longer in order to finish. The Dutch amateur driver Eric Verhoef came in third on a KTM (+0'13).

Further placements of KTM team-riders:
5. Kellon Walch (Team KTM Red Bull USA) +0'27
7. Fabrizio Meoni (Team KTM Gauloises) +0'30
11. Isidre Esteve Pujol (Team KTM Repsol-Red Bull) +0'43
12. Marc Coma (Team KTM Repsol-Red Bull) +0'43
14. Jordi Duran (Team KTM Repsol-Red Bull) +0'45
38. Chris Blais (Team KTM Red Bull USA) +1'23
39. Jean Brucy (Team KTM Gauloises) +1'24
42. Carlo de Gavardo (Team KTM de Gavardo) +1'27
44. Andy Caldecott (Team KTM Motorex Australia) +1'28
49. Alfie Cox (Team KTM Gauloises) +1'40
61. Scott Harden (Team KTM Red Bull USA) +1'57
87. David Schwarz (Team KTM Motorex Australia) +2'51
183. Giovanni Sala (Team KTM Repsol-Red Bull) +8'27

Especially Gio Sala will be pretty mad about being so far behind. Due to a technical defect on the last kilometer he was thrown off his track. He pushed his bike over the finishing line. This means a lot of work for the assistance crew just before the long connecting course tomorrow. Sala will be particularly mad, because for the first time, the clocked times gained in the prologue are counted into the ranking. Additionally, the results of today are determining the start order of the next judged stage going from Granada to Rabat on January 2nd.


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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Jean Brucy , Fabrizio Meoni , Cyril Despres , Alfie Cox , Giovanni Sala , Eric Verhoef , Scott Harden , Marc Coma , Isidre Esteve , Carlo de Gavardo , David Fretigne , Hans Trunkenpolz , Chris Blais , Kellon Walch , Jordi Duran , Andy Caldecott , Heinz Kinigadner , David Schwarz