Um... not quite...
What I am alluding to is this
TEAM HRC will give full support and hopes that the riders are on their way to recovery. We will communicate any news on their condition, as we will inform you on the riders’ participation of the 2013 Dakar Race.
And how they (with the short timeframe available) intend to proceed towards the rally in January, and the immediate future thereafter; as far as their riding staff is concerned.
There is no doubt on that front that Felipe and Sam have recieved (and will continue to be treated) with the best medical care available, and we hope that both make a full recovery - some extra positive energy being sent to Felipe and his family's way just now; at what must be a most worrying time.
As far as the rider roster for the DAKAR is concerned, the word is that after Sam's accident; there were no immediate plans to look for a replacement for january... ie: go with the remaining four rider team.
When Zanol bit the dirt shortly thereafter... suddenly 24 hours on and HRC are looking at going to the startline with a 40% depleted armarda... before they even start.
The question is for mine - will they start with only these three, or look for (one or two) riders to fill the spots?
Obviously the entries, bikes, team logistics (ie. fiscal investment and planning) are already in place and have been budgeted/expended...
Does the management now just take the bullet on 40% of that investment, or look for a mercinary to come in at the 11th hour (it's happened many times before).
In the case they DO look to go down that route... next question is (given that the HRC effort is based on several
global affiliates within the HONDA worldwide family, who have each contributed to budget/rider input from their respective geographic regions); do they look at picking a replacement SOLEY based on geographic/demographics... or hire the mercinary that is best for the job - regardless of WHERE they are from.
I would think that an already existing
long term affiliation with an established national HONDA satellite team, a prior winning
record in a number of major races over the last few years, many of these over other existing top level DAKAR competitors, one who previous DAKAR experience/finish AND has all of the applicable FIM licences etc. to do the job, just pack the helmet, boots and neckbrace and jump on a plane...
When I put all this in my melon shaped database on Tuesday... one name popped up on top of my short list... but I am sure there are others out there as well.
Just for the record... Jake isthe younger of the Smith boy's (Todd is his elder brother)... it is just that Jake got an earlier start on the Rally scene... by placing second - on debut - in the 2007 Australian Safari; at just age 18...
Oh... did I mention, youth, talent, experience and results in my credentials comment above...?
Five Oz Safari starts... two wins, two seconds, one broken leg (2011) while leading...
and a list of other Aussie cross country rally, desert race, MX and SX victories under his belt