A preview of stage 3 of the Dakar Rally is bringing us to some high mountains and traditional rally racing. The forecast was supposed to be dry, but as we all know the weather can change at any given time. The total stage length is going to be 663 km with a 314 km special stage. However the stage was shortened to just about 200 km due to weather conditions. This seems to be the theme of this year’s Dakar Rally.

KTM Red Bull Toby Price cut the first tracks while Sebastian Loeb did the same in the cars.

The format is tighter today for the day’s race against the clock…lots of mountain tracks in the special section. Experts in sliding and on the road will be able to showcase their skills here, as long as they stay constantly focused. Those hunting down the leaders will be on high alert during this route, which has been designed for opportunists.

Indeed it was a day for the opportunists in the motorcycle category. Joan Barreda (6) rode his Honda to what seemed an easy victory. For me, this is reminiscent to how Spaniard Marc Coma would ride during his numerous Dakar Rally victories. It seems with experience, Barreda is honing his rally skills. His first outings for the Dakar usually didn’t go his way…

A guy I’m following closely is Frenchman Alain Duclos. He’s hanging in the top 5 overall only a minute or so behind. This guy has been chasing the dream for many years now. I know him pretty well and we always spoke French to each other. Alain started out as a competitor who usually just finished way back in 2005 and 2006. Little by little he has started putting out good results.

Ruben Faria is another guy I remember from the African Dakar. He always had good speed but usually ended up wadding his motorcycle at some point or another and losing a lot of time. So far he is Mr. Consistent in this year’s event.

Toby Price is doing well and hanging out in the top ten overall. This is exactly what American Red Bull KTM rider Chris Blais used to do. He basically would just play it cool, then turn it on in the later stages and would find himself on the podium.

Other notables are David Casteu, French rider, in 17th. He’s very capable of finishing up there. American Ricky Brabec is still hanging out in 22nd. Ricky is still coming off of a nasty injury where he he needed a neck surgery. He is Chris Blais’ protégé. Chris has supported Ricky for some years now.  CR Gittere and Alex Smith are moving forwards at 101th and 66th positions overall, respectively.


Dakar & Europe 2004 237

This is a real road book from back in the older days of the Dakar Rally.  These are the days when they were just bringing in the GPS routes and restrictive corridors.

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Doc Edwards