Daily Recap-Jan 2, 2010.
Today was the second day of stage 1 of the DAKAR 2011 and the first “timed” special stage.
The bikes left Victoria at 4:20 am and spent 566 kms (305mi) of liaison section on mostly paved roads plus an additional 192km (119mi) of special section that deviated slightly from the special section of the cars and trucks. Rain played a factor only in the afternoon and did not affect most of the leading bikes, but some of the cars and trucks did have to deal with some heavy rainfall in the early afternoon.
In total the cars and trucks put on a total of 788kms (490mi) through the day with the total course being relatively straight forward and easier to navigate than the stages coming up in the next week. Some cars were affected today more by the rain than others due to the sporadic nature of these showers.
Robby Gordon and his HUMMER gave up some time versus the VW’s of Mark Miller (USA) and Giniel De Villiers (SA) when the official results were posted by dinnertime. Gordon continues to run the 2-wheel drive while the remainder of the field stay with 4-wheel drive. This could prove to be a factor (again) when the rally heads into the endless sand dunes where drivers like VW’s Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qat) have a strong advantage.
We reached the finish line of the special stage about 2 minutes before reigning champion Carlos “The Matador” Sainz (VW) crossed the finish line to a swarm of fans. Sainz, a former World Rally Championship (WRC) dominator has less overall experience in the dunes than many of his challengers. In the coming days we will see if he’ll give up in ground in those treacherous areas.
Within a few minutes of Sainz was BMW’s Stephane Peterhansel in second for the day. Peterhansel, who has more than 50 stage wins at DAKAR and is a close second for the record behind Russian truck champion Vladimir Chagin, recently started driving for Monster Energy as that brand makes a huge splash in the European market.
Next across the line was the very popular and likable Nasser Al-Attiyah followed by multi-time Baja champ and solid DAKAR contender Mark Miller (US)
Before the race, VW’s Miller told German reporters about his expectations and objectives for this DAKAR. Loosely translated, Miller said, “I’ve had forth place. I’ve had third and second. So it is clear that I am going for the win. When you look at the strength and magnitude of the VW Motorsports team, it is obvious that their drivers and engineers have an advantage over the rest of the field as demonstrated in recent years.”
BIKES- A day for Portugal
Ruben Faria (Portugal) had the best day at the DAKAR today as far as making up ground. Starting in 11th position, Faria won the stage and his countryman Paulo Goncalves finished 5th after starting in the #17 position.
DAKAR mainstays Cyril Despres (FRA) and Marc Coma (ESP) rounded out the podium.
The US did well for the first real test of the DAKAR with Jonah Street making up one spot for the day and Quinn Cody holding his ground on his very first day of racing a rally. “Yesterday feels like a week ago” is probably the quote that sums it up for Quinn. Congrats to our fellow countrymen for a strong start to a two-week human experience.
After dinner we spoke to both Street and Cody.
“We’re happy”, said Street (#7 YAMAHA), “Everything went well, no problems and we’re ready for tomorrow. I’ve been focusing on rally races for the past five years.”
Cody, who was accompanied by BAJA legend Johnny Campbell, is stoked to be down in South America and made a strong opening, finishing just 7 minutes behind the overall stage winner Faria. Over the next few weeks we’ll follow both Street and Cody as they go through what many have called the most important motorsports event on the planet.
RDC is down here on the ground to bring the North Americans as close as possible to the reality of the DAKAR. Today, we made an 800km (434mi) drive in a Team VW Motorsports Amarok from Buenos Aires to the bivouac in Cordoba and spend many of those kilometers on the liaison stage. The main thing we noticed was the incredible turnout of the Argentine people to watch this race. Through the day we must have passed by several hundred thousand fans before reaching the stage end at the bivouac. This left us with the impression that the Argentine people really are fanatical about their motorsports. Baja experts note the incredible turnouts for SCORE races in Mexico, but the turnout in South America is something to behold.
Stay tuned for daily recaps and photos of the action each night on RDC.
Link to Top 10 Results