La Rioja to San Juan

Today’s stage is more of the same with temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit). As I said before, the heat kind of puts the kibosh on riders attacking because they know the effort needed may cause just enough fatigue to cause a big accident or navigation error. But this is the essence of what it means to race an event like the Dakar Rally. It was interesting that the race was held up this morning due to the helicopters being “severely tested” in yesterdays stage. This is a big deal, because part of what the investment in doing the Dakar is having air coverage during the event in case of major accidents. Anyone who has done Baja 1000 knows that having a follow helicopter is valuable and expensive.

I ran into Dakar Rally veteran Danny Laporte at the Anaheim Supercross and asked him about this years Dakar Rally. He responded, “Usually I wouldn’t say this about a Dakar winner but the faster guys Like Price can win, That’s why I thought Barreda had a chance, but looking at the line up still out there Price is the fastest, not afraid to take chances.  I only know Africa and it must be a different ball game down there. South America, More dirt roads, more straight forward, people lining the course sure gives you a great sense of security for many reason.”

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 In today’s stage not much has changed and the Price and Peterhansel show is still going as planned. Peterhansel is fighting for the stage win with Despres close by in third.

Price is still holding his lead over Meo and Svitko. As long he keeps his head on his shoulders, he should win the Dakar. As I have said before this is going to be a big deal as it will be the first time a non European has won in the motorcycle division in a long time! Other news is that Goncalves has crashed out. Again the heat and fatigue of the Dakar Rally has taken him out of the race. At the finish line, Price still hold the overall lead with Svitko and Meo still holding onto the podum. This is a big deal for Slovakia as Svitko is a brand of Slovakian athletes to do well in professional sports. For those of you who watch cycling, his countryman Peter Sagan won the world title this year in Richmond, Virginia.

And Ian Blythe has made huge gains to sit 14th overall in the standings.  He moved up from 25th or so and Brabec is still sitting in 8th. I was speaking with Zach Osborne this morning about Brabec, and he seems to think that it was a good thing Brabec was held back so to speak as this allowed Ricky to no worry so much about charging and learn the ropes of Dakar. Ricky will for sure be a huge talent in the years to come. Good Job to Chris Blais and Blais Racing Services for developing Ricky into the racer that he is today. The other Americans are sitting well except CR Gittere.

I’m sad to report that Husqvarna American CR Gittere is out of the Dakar Rally due to an apparent fall in yesterdays stage. When I asked him if he was ok, he responded “Barely, thanks to a lightening bolt and a helicopter.” He has another 2 years of Dakar, with some more training and such, and his extensive motorcycle experience, he will be back and finish the Dakar.

In the past years, the Dakar Rally was nearly 3 weeks long and when we hit this 2 week mark, I remember the sullen look on the faces of the competitors. Dakar in this case was truly like climbing Mount Everest. It’s hard for me to relate to the Dakar only taking 2 weeks, but its the evolution of the event and it seems to be going well. But rest assured there are a lot of competitors out there who have finished the Dakar Rally when it was 3 weeks that know what I am talking about. This photo of Nani Roma during the 2004 Rally says it all.

sleep deprived rider 100_0821

Thanks to Thomas McDonald for the photos!