What happened Saturday 10th Jan:
The car and truck competitors raced to Uyuni, whilst the bike competitors rested and prepared themselves for the second half of an already tough race. A whopping 4414 Km’s have been covered up until now and the bikes were prepared for the first of the two marathon stages.
There was a fun atmosphere in the air in the Broadlink KTM / Red Bull Factory KTM pits as we caught up with all the South African supporters that came through to the rest day. Some washing was done and Riaan caught up with some much needed sleep.
South Africa’s Wessel Bosman arrived in the bivouac at 4:00pm from the previous day’s stage, he had 4 hours sleep in the previous 3 days and was shattered, his race was over. Dakar legend Heinz Kinigadner and his son Hannes, arrived and will spend a few days with the team.
The first leg of the marathon stage would be the first real high altitude test, with the racing stage peaking at 3900m. The track was extremely muddy and it was cold out on the stage.
Broadlink KTM’s Riaan van Niekerk, had his best day yet with a tenth overall, moving him to 12th in the overall rankings. Consistency has been the name of the game for Riaan, a clever rider who will be sure to take good care of his bike and tyre, in order to survive the marathon stage.
Paulo Gonzalves took the stage win, just 14 seconds ahead of Marc Coma, moving to within ten minutes of race leader Joan Barreda, who crashed on the stage breaking his handlebar. He rode for 120Km with one hand and conceded 6 minutes of his 12 minute lead over Red bull Factory KTM’s Marc Coma. Matthias Walkner had another great day finishing in third just a few seconds behind Coma, fourth was Quantanilla and then Toby Price.
What’s happening today:
Onto the Salar (salt pans) The weather will determine which route will be taken from Uyuni, if it’s dry, the start will be on the salt pans of Uyuni, with a 100Km dash across them on a salt road, it will be balls to the wall absolutely flat out before it slows down abruptly as it heads into a technical mountain section. The day will end with a 40Km dune section, taking them down the famous descent into the bivouac in Iquique. This will be the first time in the history of the Dakar that all three categories will be run as three separate races.