Day 6 Arica – Calama 313 km liaison 455 km special
This first special stage held in Chile took the competitors to the Atacama desert, a plateau that covers a 600-mile strip of land on the Pacific coast west of the Andes Mountains, famous for the torrid temperatures, sand dunes and salt lakes.
The Dakar is getting tougher and tougher and riders faced today a 455-km stage, split in two parts by 100 km of liaison. The first stage was characterized by big rolling dunes at the sea level, while the second part climbed up to 3,200 meters, before reaching the mining town of Calama at 2,200 meters of altitude.
Overall it was a very long day that stressed the competitors’ bodies as well as the machines. Endurance alone is not sufficient as riders need to focus always at their road books and ride with an accurate navigation.
Chilean rider Chaleco Lopez won the first fully Chilean special stage of the year in front Portuguese Ruben Faria (2’34 behind) and Cyril Despres, third at 03’48, while Helder Rodrigues finished 7th , 06’.58” behind the stage winner. Argentinian Javier Pizzolito rode with a good pace and finished 16th, 11’37” from Lopez. It was a positive day for Johnny Campbell in 24th still suffering from sore ribs. With today’s results Helder Rodrigues gained some valuable positions and sits in 9th place overall, Javier Pizzolito in 13th and Johnny Campbell in 77th, due the problem he had on the third stage.
Helder Rodrigues SS6 7th +06’58”, 9th in the Overall: “It was a long stage and climbing uphill we had the first taste of the altitude. Tomorrow it will be tougher as the stage will be averagely between 3,400 and 4,000 meters. With 4 hours sleep last night, it will be important to have a good rest and be ready for tomorrow’s marathon stage”.
Javier Pizzolito SS6 16th +11’37”, 13th in the Overall: “I rode consistently without taking too many risks as it is still a long race and it’s important not to make mistakes. I enjoyed particularly the sandy dunes and I’m ready for tomorrow’s marathon stage”.
Johnny Campbell SS6 24th +23’41”, 77th in the Overall: “I enjoyed the big rolling dunes in the first part of the stage. In the second part the machine started to feel the altitude and I also could feel it, as it was more difficult to breath. It will important now to take a good rest as tomorrow we will climb up to 4,975 metres”.
Unofficial Lap Times SS6 1 Lopez (KTM), 2. Faria (KTM) + 2’34”, 3. Despres (KTM) +3’48” … 7. Rodrigues Team HRC (Honda) +6’58, 16. Pizzolito Team HRC (Honda) +11’37, 24. Campbell Team HRC (Honda) +23’41”Overall Classification: 1. Pain (Yamaha) 2. Despres (KTM) +2’22”, 3. Casteu (Yamaha) +4’48”…. 9.Rodrigues Team HRC (Honda) +25’23”, 13. Pizzolito Team HRC (Honda) +29’49”, 77. Campbell Team HRC (Honda) +5h23’18.