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Old 01-06-2013, 03:42 AM   #38
doyle
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Joined: Jan 2004
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Dakar 2013 Stage 1 Moto Wrap Up

Many will say that the real race begins on stage two. Indeed at 13km, stage 1 will hardly make any heroes but it still possessed the capacity to ruin anyone’s rally. The reality is that the real race began a long time ago, for some, months, for others, years. For those having struggled just to get to the start line, it cannot be said that stage one did not matter.

A long liaison from Lima to Pisco, followed by a short loop through the surrounding dunes, the ASO wasted no time in throwing the competitors right into the sand. Any time the organization begins to Dakar Rally with a short spectator stage or prologue stage, it is always expected that most of the top riders will sandbag their results as to not have to lead off the next stage. Leading the stage is a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it is a clear, dust free run, on the other, the entire burden of navigation rests upon the leader’s shoulders as there are no tracks to follow as an additional parameter in the decision making process, decisions that are made at a wide open throttle pace. Very few riders can handle the pressure of leading the stage and setting the pace necessary to win the stage which is why the history books show a short list of names who have won back to back stages.

The mixed results of stage highlight the ‘sandbagging’ of many top riders, but it tells bigger stories of differing motivations and there is no bigger story than Francisco ‘Chaleco’ Lopez winning the stage. Chaleco has prepared for this rally like no other. While others strategically finished to control their stage two start position, Chaleco pushed for the win with the motivation of proving to himself that he is still a winner. Lopez is riding this rally for his career. After a run of poor luck and injury, Lopez is out to regain lost confidence. A win out of the gates tells more to his inner racer than it does to any outside observer. Lopez’ goal is to win by steadily regaining confidence in his ability and to that end, he had no choice but to push as his result means more to him than the strategy of future stages. Expect Chaleco’s rally to be more about single day results than future day’s strategy.



Second place finisher, Frans Verhoeven is in a similar place. The Yamaha pilot having switched teams from last year’s capable but snake bitten Sherco to Yamaha. Last year’s frustration is being replaced by this year’s encouragement. Things are going well for Frans and a great result on stage one validates that encouragement.

These short strategy stages allow for relative back markers to shine and what a shine it was for Chileans Pablo Quintanilla and Patricio Cabrera who pushed to take third and fourth respectively. The remainder of the top ten is an exercise in managing the strategy for the much longer and more consequential stage two. As team mates, Cyril Despres and his water carrier Ruben Faria times it perfectly with Frenchman David Casteu splitting them in sixth on his Yamaha. In seventh, Javier Pizzolito was not top Honda, but top factory Honda rider showcasing the new machine in which so many fans have placed hope for a good showing.

The ever present Pal Anders Ullevalsetter, very quietly slotted his KTM into ninth place, the Norwegian displaying a low profile in the buildup to the rally. Speedbrain Husqvarna’s Joan Barreda rounded out the top ten and as such, sits very well placed for a good start to stage two.



For stage two, strategy will not play as large a role in regards to time management. The push will be on as it is expected that the entire rally will be fast. Capable riders, matured teams, new endeavors for big manufacturers, and closer competition through the rules are all factors showing that the gap between the winner and the also rans has tightened. As such, the sandy, 242km special will bore out the true talent and put on display those who are truly out to take the prize from the hands of reigning Dakar king, Cyril Despres. Another Pisco to Pisco loop, but this is no prologue and there is no time to rest.

Stage 2 Map:



Stage 2 Profile:



Stage 1 Results:

1 LOPEZ CONTARDO (CHL) KTM 000:39:15

2 VERHOEVEN (NLD) YAMAHA +0:00:05

3 QUINTANILLA (CHL) HONDA +0:00:25

4 CABRERA (CHL) KAWASAKI +0:00:55

5 DESPRES (FRA) KTM +0:01:05

6 CASTEU (FRA) YAMAHA +0:01:15

7 FARIA (PRT) KTM +0:01:35

8 PIZZOLITO (ARG) HONDA +0:01:45

9 ULLEVALSETER (NOR) KTM +0:02:10

10 BARREDA BORT (ESP) HUSQVARNA +0:02:25

Overall Standings:

1 LOPEZ CONTARDO (CHL) KTM 000:39:15

2 VERHOEVEN (NLD) YAMAHA +0:00:05

3 QUINTANILLA (CHL) HONDA +0:00:25

4 CABRERA (CHL) KAWASAKI +0:00:55

5 DESPRES (FRA) KTM +0:01:05

6 CASTEU (FRA) YAMAHA +0:01:15

7 FARIA (PRT) KTM +0:01:35

8 PIZZOLITO (ARG) HONDA +0:01:45

9 ULLEVALSETER (NOR) KTM +0:02:10

10 BARREDA BORT (ESP) HUSQVARNA +0:02:25
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