Bad day for Marcos Patronelli
The title holder certainly did not have a dream day today. He was even very close to throw down the gauntlet. When he got to the bivouac, he had a pretty tough conversation with himself. Speaking to God knows who, he started shouting hit by extreme fatigue. "A day on my own, in the rain, in the middle of all the cars, and now a penalty!" It all started at km 15 of today's liaison. Electrical problem stopped the 2010 winner for a full hour, depriving him - on day one already - of any opportunity to defend his title. "I dismantled the whole quad. I looked, repaired and started again with a huge delay." Having started the special stage outside the deadlines, the Argentine will probably get a penalty for that. Nevertheless, finishing 9th against all odds, shows that Marcos Patronelli has truly recovered from his recent injury. "Physically, everything is fine", says the youngest of the Patronelli brothers whose brother Alejandro is ranking 5th of a stage that was won by Josef Machacek.
The Female Challenge: the highly-coveted trophy of Annie Seel
She is at her 5th Dakar and her emotion is still the same. Especially when spectators call out her name upon arrival in Cordoba. "They offered me a small teddy bear. I will call it 'Osito Cordoba'." Annie Seel is one of the 6 women taking part in the Dakar riding a bike. Winner of the Female Challenge and 45th in the general rankings last year, Annie has been part of the Dakar landscape since her first participation in 2002. Nicknamed the Desert Princess, she contributes to putting women into the rally raid landscape together with a few other regulars of the event: Silvia Giannetti (67th last year), Cristina Meier (85th) and Mirjam Pol (1st women in 2009). This year, the ladies are joined by two rookies: Jenifer Morgan and - more importantly - 10-time motocross world champion Laia Sanz. Yesterday, the 24 year-old Catalan finished first of the six women for her very first Dakar, ranking 46th in the general rankings. Female participation is not limited to the bike category as Camйlia Liparoti is racing in the quad category - in which she finished 13th last year -; she is also running for the Challenge where she finished 3rd last year. The Challenge is however not open to Isabelle Patissier (nr 333) and Christine Favre (nr 343) as both are part of a team involving men. The first is the driver and the second is the navigator. Andrйa Mayer (nr 563) and Fina Roman (nr 517) complete the liste of women enrolled this year; they are involved in the truck race also as members of mixed teams.