January 6 2011, Stage 5 overall standings : Quinn Cody 15th; Alexey Naumov 52nd; Vadim Pritulyak 87th; Mirjam Pol 98th;
Countless bruises and mechanics' overtime
All four Team Honda Europe riders safely made it to the bivouac at Iquique, Chile, this afternoon in good spirits. The final slope from the dunes downwards led practically into the bivouac, so the assistance crew had a nice spectacle put on right before their eyes.
Three out of four Team Honda Europe riders came in without major damage to their 450X bikes. The usual scratches are not counted. Vadim Pritulyak kept his mechanic Gerrit Polsvoort happy by taking more corporal punishment himself than allowing his bike to suffer. Both team physiotherapist Luuc Botter and Pritulyak's son Vlad (short for Vladislav) take care of the countless bruises of father Vadim. In the meantime, Gerrit had requested an official to check the Sentinel horn on the bike, for Vadim had experienced problems hearing this safety equipment warning for fast cars and trucks that wish to overtake. Gerrit had excluded other electric malfunctions beforehand, so the check was quite simple. The official grabbed a new horn from his backpack and it was quickly mounted so Vadim should be, if not less sore himself, more secure on tomorrows stage.
The first real Dakarstage
Today was the first of several tough Dakar stages scheduled around the rest day. After a cold night in Calama the first bike left the bivouac at 06.40 for just a short liaison. The
special was 423 kilometers long and quit a few competitors will remember the day that they had to abandon the Dakar 2011. Top ten riders Olivier Pain had to give up with a broken wrist, David Casteu was 115th today with a broken gearbox and lost a lot of time.
Quinn Cody lost some time today with a 22nd place in today's stage (15th overall). Quinn has caused his mechanic
Marcel Bulten more work today by performing a highsider. This is typically unintended maneuver, if the intentional sideways sliding rear wheel suddenly finds grip. The bike and its rider flip over under influence of inertia. The bike suffered, bending the handlebar and muffler. Also, the navigational equipment twisted on its mounts and the fairing didn't appear its fairest any longer. Quinn quickly checked in the special stage, but no fluids were leaking so he continued on. It took him 5 to 10 minutes working on the bike to get going again. "After that I just rode in. I injured my right thumb, the nail is black and blue. After the finish it started to hurt quite a bit. The last section was hard, because my airfilter was clogged with silt and it was hard to get the bike through the dunes. It was a tough stage. Tomorrow will be tougher, we'll see how it goes with my thumb '' commented Quinn. While Quinn spent the afternoon preparing the next road book and modifications to it, the mechanics worked on the bike until the early morning hours.
Alexey Naumov made it to the finish with no fuel left. The bike stalled going down the big dune before the finish. "It was my own mistake, I didn't take enough fuel at the fuel stop. Until kilometer 350 I was fine, overtaking some people. The fesh-fesh however was terrible. The navigation in the dune section was new for me. I lost 20 to 30 minutes looking for a waypoint. I learn every day, it's a hard race. The guys at the front are very strong. Not just physically, but also mentally.''
It was the same day as today in the Dakar 2010 that Mirjam Pol had a terrible day. She crashed hard which in the end made her give up after the rest day. Today was a good day for Mirjam, who had a scary moment in the road section when she almost crashed into a Nissan pick-up which wasn't paying attention. "The first 200 kilometers were terrible, I wouldn't send my worst enemy over these tracks. At kilometer 380 I got really angry with the organization as they promised us dunes, and we hadn't seen any so far. But not much later the dune section started. 10 kilometers long, and I got through ok. I followed one of the fast riders who had gotten behind onto a big dune, but where he went over, I got stuck... It was a dangerous stage so I didn't take any risks.'' Starting times are usually late, due to the official's workload. This evening though, Mirjam Pol could get into her sleeping bag comfortably with her wake-up call already known. She will take some extra time in the morning to have Luuc Botter work on an old injury to the right triceps surae (lower leg muscle). She reported no pain
while riding, but the injury annoys her while resting or at times when she wished to be soundly asleep. Spending some time daily on recovery, even if it requires moving the alarm call ahead, hopefully will result in a better nightly rest.
Vadim Pritulyak is in surviving mode. He had a battery problem, which made him use the kickstart of his bike. Not very convenient in the dunes, where he had to pick up his bike several times after falling down and using a lot of energy getting it started again. "It was dangerous today. Many holes, ditches, I saw a lot of crashed riders. My body is sore, but tomorrow is another day..."
The team quarter master Benno Roosen was seen honing his gardening skills, raking the Chilean desert sand and removing sharp rocks from under the tents. It is a gentle evening temperature-wise, at the Pacific shore. His coffee rounds are generally appreciated. Two mechanics have been out of service temporarily due to an apparent food poisoning. First Marcel Bulten and then Michel Reins had headaches and stomach pains for a couple of hours, slowing their work down but not by much. The rally rhythm starts to take over from the hectic getting-used-to in the first days. There is just one more day to go before rest day. It comes as a nice reward rather than an absolute necessity for Team Honda Europe. Both bikes and riders appear to hold well.
Preview January 7th Iquique -- Arica
The exploration of the Atacama Desert this year brings the Dakar participants to Arica, the last town before the Peruvian border. For this large slice of desert before the rest day, the menu is full of dunes, whose sizes increase as the day passes by. But throughout the special stage, the riders and drivers will experience an alternation of sensations. After surfing on the dunes, most of them will get to grips with the unavoidable zones of fesh-fesh, or "guadal" as they are known in this part of the world. For the section of slaloming between dust and dry grass, patience is the competitors' best ally. The organization gives the competitors the time to finish until 18.00 hours the day after tomorrow.