What happened Tuesday 6th Jan:
Broadlink’s Riaan van Niekerk had a trouble free day and stayed out of trouble, finishing 20th on the stage. Matthias Walkner set a blistering pace today to take the stage win ahead of Marc coma. Marc was able to pull back some time on Barreda and is looking forward to the Chilean stages. Barreda finished third on the stage, Toby Price was fourth.
The traditional crossing of the Andes via the San Francisco pass was taxing although it wasn’t as cold as normal. Riders were overdressed as ominous weather got them packing on extra layers for the 4:30am departure from Chilecito. Temperatures over the 5000m crossing didnt go much below 8 degrees, never the less there was a chill in the air. After a 594 Km liaison section, it was straight into the 315 Km special and competitors first glimpse this year of the Atacama. Navigation would be the order of the day and Tuesdays winner Matthias Walkner soon slotted in behind Marc Coma. Toby Price was the first to get lost losing around 20 minutes early in the morning, Sam Sunderland’s bike stopped at Km 67.
Riaan van Niekerk had a trouble free day with a steady ride into 14th place at the end of the day. The first 100 kays was absolutely flat out, Sam Sunderland crashed out early in the morning on the really slippery roads and is out. Riaan then passed David Casteu and they rode together until the refuel, when Chilean rider Gouet joined them. A short while later Helder Rodrigues and Pizzalito joined the fray and the four of them rode to the finish together. All in all it was a steady day with no real drama for Riaan and the Broadlink crew.
Joan Barreda took the stage win today gaining 2 minutes on Marc Coma. Both young guns Matthias Walkner and Toby Price made navigation errors today and paid the price.
What’s happening today:
This is one of the few special stages of the rally where all categories follow the same route. The tracks will be really fast in the early stages, allowing those that wish to overtake, the advantage to move up the overall standings. This will be at their own risk though, as competitors should be aware of the pockets of fesh- fesh where absolute self control is the only real measure of success.