On marathon stage, riders will be separated from their assistance crews and had to look after their machines themselves.
Juan Pedrero has left his bad luck from Friday far behind him with a brilliant ride on the seventh stage of Dakar. Clearly revitalised from yesterday’s rest day, the Spanish rider braved the long and graduate climb towards today’s special stage and scorched to a top six finish.
The 717 km long seventh stage of the 2015 Dakar, of which 321 km was against the clock, brought the riders to Uyuni in Bolivia for the first marathon stage. Separated from their assistance crews, who remained in Chile, the riders had to look after their machines themselves in less than ideal conditions. Low temperatures, rain and high altitude are just a few of the challenges the riders are facing as they prepare their WR450F Rally machines in readiness for tomorrow’s return to Iquique.
First Yamaha into the parc fermé today was that of Pedrero in 6th, followed by Alessandro Botturi sitting in 13th and Olivier Pain 26th. Michael Metge had a tough outing today. The French rider hit a hole at high speed and suffered a crash. Thankfully he was unharmed, but he lost precious time and arrived at the bivouac in 41st place.
Overall Botturi maintains his 11th place, while Metge now finds himself 17th in the standings, in front of Pedrero in 19th position and Pain in 21st position.
Challenging stage for the quads
The quad category was won by Yamaha’s Nelson Sanabria Galeano. He completed today’s challenging stage in 5h22’12, closely followed by Rafal Sonik (at 05’46) and Ignacio Casale (at 11’37). Today’s result means Sonik slightly increases his lead in the overall standing (31h50’46) over his closest rival Casale (at 21’59), while Sergio Lafuente holds the provisional third place (at 1h08’00).
Tomorrow the riders will make their way back to Iquique, but it will be up to the weather which route they take to leave Bolivia. If the weather is good, the riders might start the eighth stage from the Salar de Uyuni for some racing over smooth roads of white salt.
Juan Pedrero (6th / at 03’20, overall 19th / 02h05’13): “Today I had a good feeling, even if the track at the beginning of the stage was too fast for me. I went well in the technical sections, attacked hard and enjoyed myself on the bike. The public was great - unbelievable to see so much enthusiasm for the Dakar here.”
Alessandro Botturi (13th / at 06’13, overall 11th / 1h19’18): “The stage was tough but I had a good rhythm. All day long I took care because I didn’t want to crash – which wasn’t easy as the rain made the track very slippery. It was important to arrive in Uyuni with the bike in good condition, as we have no mechanics to help us tonight. The crowds were incredible. Since we crossed the border and came into Bolivia we have seen thousands of enthusiastic people along the track and here in Uyuni.”
Michael Metge (41st / at 39’13, overall 17th / 1h59’31): “The beginning of the stage was pretty good for me, but in a muddy section I didn’t see a hole hidden in the grass and crashed quite hard. I damaged the right-hand side of the bike and also some of the navigation equipment, which made it difficult to find the way. In addition I hurt my right shoulder and my wrist. It’s been a very bad day for me, I lost time restarting the bike and I don’t know what to expect tomorrow.”
Olivier Pain (26th / at 17’01, overall 21st / 2h21’28): “I really enjoyed myself today, I felt good on the bike, even if that doesn’t really show in the final result. The stage was nice to ride, bumpy with only a few small dangers and by chance we managed to avoid the rain. The most difficult sections were where it was muddy after yesterday’s rain. It was really slippery, easy to get both wheels sliding, which resulted in a small crash, happily without serious consequences.
I am delighted to start off this week with a good feeling, my confidence has returned, I’ve found a position on the bike which suits me better and the changes we’ve made to the bike have taken it in the right direction. Hopefully these new sensations will be confirmed on the second half of this marathon stage.”