What happened Wednesday 7th Jan:
It was the first crossing of the Andes and a long day for the riders, it was a total of 909Km’s in all. Navigation would be the order of the day and stage 4 winner Matthias Walkner and Toby Price both got lost losing precious time.Riaan van Niekerk had a trouble free day with a steady ride into 14th place at the end of the day. Sam Sunderland crashed out early in the morning. Barreda won the stage ahead of Marc Coma.
Another long racing stage through the Atacama desert and it would soon become clear that the terrain favored the local Chilean riders with Quintanilla and Israel right out front. This is one of the most treacherous stages of the Dakar with massive amounts of fesh fesh and rough tracks. Broadlink’s Riaan van Niekerk did not want to take risk here and finished in 17th for the day and he holds onto his 15th overall.
“It was a really long stage, one of the hardest of the rally, 450km really bumpy, lots and lots of fesh fesh. It wasn’t possible to overtake with the fesh fesh, you simply couldn’t get close enough. We are all in the same boat, overall I had a trouble free day, it was just a long stage, but tomorrow will be a little bit shorter and hopefully it eases up a bit”
In the overall the battle is still between Marc Coma and Joan Barreda, with the cat and mouse game ensuing. Both Jordi Viladoms and Ruben Faria got lost today losing 14 and 17 minutes. There are 7 KTM’s in the top ten overall positions with Matthias Walkner and Toby price still figuring out the “rally style” of racing. They are 8th and 10th overall respectively.
What’s happening today:
The route starts making it’s way up the Pacific coast towards Iquique. The bikes and quads will have an extension of the special stage that will take them into endurance type terrain and onto mountain ridges with sea views. They will have to navigate the dunes that dominate the coastline and will not finish with the traditional descent, but rather on the podium in the centre of Iquique to mark the halfway point in the race.