By in 2009, Archivio, Enduro on 14 gennaio 2009
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A thick fog on the morning of the 13th january caused the start to be
delayed for almost 3 hours. Only when the helicopters were able to
take off, the start was given free. All that time the bikers were
waiting at the start. The stage was very fast. Fast mountain tracks
which could be ridden full throttle. After the last fuel stop the
route changed to sand dunes. 70 tough kilometers long. Just before the
finish there was a waypoint which wasn’t mentioned in the roadbook.

To find it you really had to get off the route. A number
of competitors noticed it in time and turned back. To get to the
waypoint, you had to go over a really big dune with big rocks, which
was quite a challenge. A number of competitors found out at the
finish, but wasn’t allowed by the organization to turn back. It’s not
allowed (and not very smart) to ride back in the wrong direction into
the traffic, especially with the risk of racecars coming your way.

Big question now is what is going to happen. Who missed the waypoint,
and who didn’t? Possibly also the Volkswagens have missed it. A missed
waypoint means a penalty of 4 hours! So this incident could have big
consequences for the overall ranking. But what if so many missed the
waypoint, and the roadbook wasn’t correct, what then? A smaller
penalty? No penalty at all?

For Mirjam Pol (48th in the special, 46th overall) there’s a lot at
stake. She has a 3.23 hour lead over Annie Seel. Mirjam missed the
waypoint, contrary to Seel. If Mirjam get’s the full penalty, it would
turn things upside down. Pol: ,,This can’t be true. We arrived with
three at the finish, independent from each other. Not one of us had
the waypoint. With all the alterations in the roadbook this must be a
mistake. I rode fast today; I came in before Anne Seel did. (Pol was
12 minutes faster) This special suited me. The dunes were good to
ride. High though, but not difficult. ”

Jurgen van den Goorbergh (21st in the special, 24th overall) was
riding in 14th position for a while today, he keeps improving himself.
Van den Goorbergh:,, It were high speed tracks today. I was
continuously in 4th and 5th gear. The delay at the start was not good
for me; I was getting hungry at the end. Just before the 2nd fuel
stop, the bike started to hold back. No fuel! By blowing into the fuel
tank, riding downhill, I was able to make it to the fuel stop using
the last fume of fuel. I had the finish in sight, when I noticed I
missed a waypoint. I turned and ‘plop’, the arrow on my gps appeared!
We had to go up a big dune. Full throttle in second gear I managed to
get to the top, the bike really had to work for it. All in all it took
me an extra 10 minutes, but I’m happy I got the waypoint. Not bad for
a newcomer, right?”

Mick Extance has been fighting all rally to make it into the top 20.
And from today he is 20st overall. But for how long, as he missed the
waypoint. Mick:,,The special was doable. My roadbook holder broke, I
got lost too many times. I followed Frenchman Bethys, but noticed
right away he didn’t know where he was going either. After the
fuelstop it was 70 km of hard dunes. Great to ride, I caught up with a
number of riders. Now I can only hope I will not get the penalty.’

Christopher Jarmuz was very pleased about the fact he had found
waypoint no.32. Off course he does hope everybody who didn’t find it
will be penalized, because that would mean he can move some places
forward. Jarmuz:,,It took me 20 to 30 minutes to make it to the
waypoint. My hands were a bit sore today. The last 20 km in the dunes
I had to zigzag my way to the top.

Tomorrow is the first day of the marathonstage. That means there’s no
assistance for the riders. A box and a set of wheels transported by
the organization is all they get. Because many cars and trucks still
have to come out of the special, the stage of tomorrow is cancelled!
The riders just have liaison to do. The rally returns back to
Argentina tomorrow. The special was to be ridden in Chili. With so
many people still in trouble, the risk for the organization that again
competitors will be very late tomorrow is too big. That could cause
many problems at the border crossing.

Teammanager Henk Hellegers: ,,With this loop around Copiapio many
teams thought they were able to do a last good service before the
marathonstage. I already saw it coming. This hard (and delayed)
special will make good service impossible for many teams. This means
the marathonstage in fact already has begun. I’m please our riders
were in the bivouac in time, everybody can start with a fresh serviced

At this moment it’s a bit uncertain what will happen. Rumors are the
stage of today will be cancelled from checkpoint 7, which means no
missed waypoint 32 and no penalties. Who is going out tonight? The
answers will follow tomorrow. All the service trucks and cars go
directly to La Rioja. The competitors have their own bivouac, in
Fiambala. They will come to La Rioja the day after tomorrow. From
there it’s only two more days to Buenos Aires…

Team Honda Europe – http://www.honda-dakar-rally.com/

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