Dakar: Scott Cox's Dakar Daily 2007-01-09

Dakar Daily by Scott Cox 1/9/07 post from www.dakar.com this morning 16:21 GMT SOUTH AFRICAN ELMER SYMONS ...

Dakar Daily by Scott Cox

1/9/07 post from www.dakar.com this morning 16:21

The organisers of the Dakar were this morning informed of the death of South African Elmer Symons, rider number 107, during the 4th stage. At the age of 29, Elmer Symons was taking part in his first Dakar as a competitor having participated in two others as part of an assistance team. The rally organisers waited for the arrival at the bivouac of his brother Kingsley (Phillip) Symons, who was providing assistance for him, in order to express their support and sadness.


According to Dr. Johnathan Edwards, Elmer's rally nearly ended two days ago when his team's assistance truck was disabled in Spain due to severe mechanical problems. Undeterred, Elmer and his brother Phillip stowed their gear (or small bits and pieces of it) into any nook and cranny they could beg or borrow. Several of Elmer's fellow competitors took pitty on his dire situation and extended a helping hand. Apparently, once a little of Elmer's race gear was stowed, precious little room was left for anything else.

"Elmer's brother Phillip somehow thumbed a ride down here (to Morrocco) in somebody's vehicle. Not sure who. I don't even think he was able to carry personal gear with him because there's just no extra room in any of the vehicles," Said Dr. Edwards. "I felt so sorry for Phillip last night as it was so cold here in the Atlas Mountains, I managed to hooked him up with clothing so he wouldn't freeze. Those Symon's brothers are a tough bunch."

I was very fortunate to have known Elmer Symons and anyone who'd had the pleasure of riding with him can attest to the fact that he was possessed by the unique spirit that Dakar competitors are made of. Participating in the 2007 Dakar - his first entry as a racer (this was his 3rd entry in the Dakar; having wrenched for Scot Harden in 2005 and James Embro in 2006) was his lifelong dream. Elmer's grin and good humor were contagious and he will be sorely missed. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his brother Phillip and he Symons family, his fellow teammate James Embro, and to the many friends that Elmer touched during his short life." -- Scott Cox


Blais blisters Morrocco with 2nd place stage finish; now 5th overall After a day of disapointments yesterday including engine maladies and 11-minutes of down time, Chris Blais and his big blue #9 Red Bull 660 KTM wasted no time launching off the boat at Nador, Morrocco and making his 3rd return to African soil a memorable affair. With eye-of-the-tiger focus, Blais set for himself a blistering pace, blowing by scores of riders as if they were trailriding. Make no doubt about it, this soon to be 3-time Dakar veteran isn't here to ride with or follow anyone in 2007 - his sights are set for stage wins and a podium finish on the shores of Lac Rose a couple weeks from now. Here's what the sat-phone call from Dr. Johnathan Edwards sounded like.

"Chris went from 81st at the start to 15th at the end of the stage. Despite the very dusty conditions, and a minor crash at end of the special, Chris rode very well and he really kicked ass! It's been a lot of work but Matt (Spencer, Blais' technician) and I are handling it and we're all in pretty good spirits."

Additional comments from Doc Edwards about other American hopefuls: #232 Casey McCoy (Team Rally Panamerica) is riding his own race and getting accustomed to his first African rally. A badly broken leg suffered in pre-Dakar testing a couple of years back delayed his entry into the world's toughest race but the fast and friendly Mammoth Mountain, California ski resort general manager is every bit a world class off-road racer.

According to Doc Edwards, "Casey's leg is hurting him after three days on the bike, but he's still hanging tough."

#25 Jonah Street (Team Rally Panamerica) is logging another awesome performance in this, his 2nd Dakar. After three days of throttle twisting, Street finds himself 4th overall, just under 7min behind overall leader, #4 Esteve Pujol.

-credit: scott cox

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Casey McCoy , Chris Blais , Jonah Street