Week one over... some recovery and rebuild opportunities on the rest day and now start off on week two with another marathon stage.
Has Dave Castera and ASO served up the toughest DAKAR since the move to South America...? Well on the merits of week one alone - so far it's a fair question.
Will it be the toughest ever? Hard to day definitively and impossible to compare objectively (apples and apples, changing times, conditions etc.).
One thing though (PS great statistics on the previous editions for comparisons sake that Coak & Co. put together) and that is, if the withdrawal trend of week one continues (procentually), it could well be amongst the lowest finisher percentage ever.*
And on saturday, while I was off riding, and contemplating WHAT factors may have contributed to this?
1. The organisation said from the outset this DAKAR was going to be tougher, longer percentage off specials, lomger specials (marathon stages) and even more technical terrain. Castera has delivered on this point.
2. I beleive Manny gave us the inside line, that in the "acceptance" process (for motos at least) consideration was given to many amatuer/rookie riders who previosly had applied and been passed over, were given start numbers for this year? That may well contribute to a certain amount of the carnage on the days 2 thru 5 as a result of relative "unpreparedness" as a percentage of the field as a whole?
3. The "go fast factor" Since about Marocco, we here at the ADV/F5 collective, have been contemplating that the 2014 Dakar Moto starting line up was possible the fastest, deepest talent, most competitive, biggest cross section of factory team participants etc. etc. The quality of riders in the "elite" top 30 was remarkable, even go so far as to say amongst the top 50 you have riders who excell in their respective nations in various form of off road competition.
Fuel this with the fact that HRC, Yamaha, KTM, Sherco, Speedbrain and Gas Gas all have top 10 caliber riders on their staff... and it was all bets on the table that the "pace" would be a cracker from day one. And it was.
This (as I read from someone earlier while rolling thru the f5irehose) probably force the hand of even the seasoned riders to "push" more than in the recent editions? It certainly has been more than just the "Cyril & Marc show" with supporting cast... as rally raid has tended often to be these last five or six years.
So far Dakar 2014 has delivered exhaustion - both physical, mental and mechanical during week one... week two starts now...