A traditional tough stage around Fiambala
It was the 3rd time in three years that the Dakar passed Fiambala, and for the 3rd time most of the competitors will remember this stage as a tough one. The soft sand, difficult dunes and high temperatures coming down from the Andes mountains demanded all the skills the competitors had to offer. A difficult situation in the roadbook short before the finish caused a lot of commotion. As every day there were winners and losers. Quinn Cody lost time today, and dropped back from 8th to 10th overall. The American who's making a great debut was in very good position before he got lost. He was pissed off....
Cody: (50th in the special, 10th overall) "We started in soft sand and I tried to be smooth to keep the speed up. In the dunes I had some problems with the bike, it was suffering from vapor lock. Jonah (Street) and some other guys were having the same problem. About ten kilometers before the finish I missed a note, like many did. There was a deep rio with high cliffs, and the waypoint was on the other side. We lost time looking for the right passage. I had to transfer fuel from the rear tank to the front by hand, to keep the bike going. I stuck with Jonah, but it didn't work out. These things happen. I'm pissed off because I feel good. I will still try to finish in the top ten, but experience in this race is so important.''
Alexey Naumov surprised even himself with a 17th time in the special of today. ''It was a long day, with a cold start and an afternoon in a microwave. The last 30 kilometers were difficult, almost like trial. I'm very tired, but I did a good job today. Fast gravelroads are still difficult for me, but soft sand and hard conditions are what I like.''
Mirjam Pol : 'It was a real Fiambala day. Just like last year everything went wrong. I was a half hour late at the start, it's just impossible to make it with ASO's time schedule. Until kilometer 87 things were fine. But then I chose the wrong side of a mountain and I got stuck in the sand. At kilometer 100 some locals gave me two bottles of ice cold water. One went over my head, the other in my camelbag. Next thing I know the bike stopped running. No more fuel in the front tank. I knew I still had a long way to go, the rear tank was filled for three quarters, so when some locals offered me fuel I didn't hesitate. It was soft sand all the way, and I caught up with Dutch riders Hans-Jos Liefhebber and Onno Ellens. I decided to stay with them, Hans-Jos was showing us the way. I couldn't do more than just follow the last 40 kilometers.''
fuel I didn't hesitate. It was soft sand all the way, and I caught up with Dutch riders Hans-Jos Liefhebber and Onno Ellens. I decided to stay with them, Hans-Jos was showing us the way. I couldn't do more than just follow the last 40 kilometers.'' Vadim Pritulyak
Vadim finally in bivouac, after a long night out 'Just in time delivery' is the understatement of the rally. While Quinn Cody had Team Honda Europe room service deliver breakfast to his tent, Vladislav was preparing the roadbook for his father Vadim Pritulyak and waiting with a full dinner plate. At this very moment, Vadim stumbled into the bivouac with his motor starved for fuel. Apparently, the appalling heat of the previous day has caused the petrol to boil before reaching the carburetor. Vadim made it through the special stage, but lost much time on the final liaison. He had preferred top sleep this time. At this time, he is getting one hour of it, while the mechanics fix his bike with less than the same hour to spare. Around this time also, the many generators in the bivouac go quiet one after the other. Their noise is replaced by that of starting bikes and even assistance trucks getting ready for the next day. This must be the largest open-air workshop that never stops. Riders and mechanics sleep in between the loudest generators and race machinery ever gathered. On January 13th the first bike started at 07:50 local time, Vadim was able to start at 09:02:30 on position 93.
Preview January 13th Chilecito -- San Juan
The country remains the same, but the competitors will genuinely have the impression of entering a new land. The foothills of the Andes sometimes take on a far west appearance, and this is indeed the case for the fabulous canyons in the first timed sector. A little tune by Ennio Morricone would be a perfect sound-track to the sandier backdrop of the second portion, where the competitors will navigate between fairy chimneys. In spite of appearances, it is not a cinema setting: the competitors will have to remain focused and on form for more than 600 kilometres to conserve the benefits of the efforts they have made up to this point.