The first part of the special went very well, but on the second section, the engine lost a fair bit of power and I started wondering whether it was a fuel problem or due to the altitude. I don't know, but I should find out when I get to the bivouac”.
I knew that it was the first stage on hard terrain so I had to make the most of it. I set of in 13th place and tried to go flat out, but I wasn't able to go as fast as I wanted with all the dust on the special. What's more, Paulo Gonçalves overtook me... On the second part, I found a good pace and moved up. I would have liked to have won the stage today because it's my wife's birthday and I wanted to dedicate the victory to her. Nevermind, she'll just have to be happy with 2nd place. That said, from a racing point of view it's better, because I will have less time to wait for Cyril, who must have finished in third place.
I ate quite a lot of dust having started 5th this morning, but then I caught up with the stage leaders at the end of the first section. It was very quick, a WRC type route... At last there were some tracks and rocks. It was really nice to ride and on the second section, we all stuck together in single file. All in all, it was generally a good special and it's great to be in Chile!
Apart from a small navigation error at the start of the special, which must have lost me around 3 minutes, I managed to catch up with Casteu and Pedrero at the end of the dunes before overtaking them. Afterwards, I opened the road and attacked, but made sure I didn't take too many risks, because it was quite tricky. On the second section, I knew that Cyril would have trouble overtaking with all the dust around, but I still rode fast to keep the lead in the general standings. So, it's a good day in general, because I gained some time back on Casteu and didn't lose too much to Cyril. I'm still in the lead of the Dakar, for the 3rd day running – it's great! But I'm not letting it get to my head; I'll continue as I am, taking it day by day!