01-11-2014, 06:48 AM
Joined: Oct 2005
Originally Posted by JMo (& piglet)
I have put together a brief summary of the first week, together with a look forward to the second half on the Jennydakar.com Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JennyDakar
- and would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone here on the F5irehose for providing such a rapid (and usually accurate!) source of information, thorough analysis (mostly), and of course, priceless speculation!
"Dakar Day 7 (Rest Day - Salta) and 1st week review: Rest day cannot have come soon enough for everyone on Dakar this year - amateurs and pros alike, particularly in the bike category. Of my initial featured riders (mainly privateers), sadly all of them have had to withdraw, either through mechanical failure, injury, or timing out on what has been described as one of the hardest routes ever on the Dakar Rally.
Even the pros are not immune - with a resurgence in factory teams taking part, coupled with worldwide media coverage to billions of people, the big guns are out to grab headlines - and inevitable pushing hard from day one is going to result in casualties. Fortunately many have been able to walk away (or at least walk to the helicopter), but others have needed more intensive care and repatriation to their home countries. It has been a brutal first half to the race.
The last two days (Stage 5 & 6) have been particularly severe, with high altitude and searing temperatures well over 100°F compounding the stress on already weakened bodies. For example, Gilbert Escalé - one of two young (20 year old) Spanish twin brothers riding together in Dakar for the first time crashed particularly severely into a cravass and had to be airlifted out. His brother Oriol on hearing the news tried to continue on, but subsequently withdrew to support his brother in intensive care. Fortunately we can report that Gilbert is out of danger now.
Other riders struggled on throughout the day with failing machinery, personal dehydration, and the ever present risk of fire - and a number of cases where dry vegetation was getting tangled in their bikes and acting as kindling.
Sadly this year has already suffered one competitor fatality - 11 time Dakar entrant and Malle Moto rider #122 Eric Palante, who was an extremely experienced participant, was found early on Friday morning having failed to reach the end of the stage the day before. Stage 5 had also claimed the lives of two journalists who were following the event, when their vehicle left the road and crashed.
With over 50% of the motorcycle entrants now withdrawn - and not least many of the podium and top-ten contenders now out of the race, it is expected that the second half of the rally may offer some respite.
However, the Motos will still have to contend a second 'Marathon' stage starting right after rest-day tomorrow, with an overnight at high altitude in Uyuni, Bolivia (while the Autos and Trucks race a loop stage out of Salta, Argentina), and the rally organisation are on record as saying Stage 11 (Antofagasta to San Salvador, Chile) is likely to prove one of the toughest Dakar stages ever.
So for part 2 of Dakar 2014, these are the riders I'll be following:
#92 Mike Johnson - US privateer is the only remaining American rider in the rally this year - he has been struggling with electrical problems throughout the first half of the race, but is showing strong resolve and resilience.
#50 Laia Sanz - While the Factory HRC riders have all suffered from mechanical problems, injury and even their bikes catching fire!, Laia who is riding one of the 'customer' CRF450 Rally machines this year has had a reasonably uneventful rally so far, and has proved consistent with regular stage finishes in the top 20. If she maintains this pace, I am certain we will see her on a full factory bike in 2015.
#67 Robert Van Pelt - at just 20 years old, Robert is the youngest competitor on the Dakar this year, and similarly was the youngest ever in 2012, where he finished his first event in 47th position overall. Robert is currently sitting just outside the top 20 overall, and finished a spectacular 7th on stage earlier in the week. This is even more impressive when you consider he is riding in the Malle Moto (unassisted) category - one to watch for the future I'm sure!
#259 Camelia Laparoti - Camelia is one of very few female quad riders in rally-raid, and has consistently finished the Dakar in the top 15 in the past four years. She has been riding a steady race this year, and is on target for her 5th finishers medal.
We of course wish all the remaining competitors the best of luck, those injured a speedy and full recovery, and offer the sincerest condolences to all those who have suffered bereavement this past week."