Stage2: Pisco > San Juan de Marcona
Liaison: 553 km / 344 miles
Special: 324 km/ 201 miles
Day two of the 2019 Dakar is in the books with one of the longer stages we’ll see in the rally. Starting early this morning the cars opened the road with Nassar Al-Attiyah leading the way having won the previous day’s stage. Although all would not go well for the Qatari as he would lose time in the navigation heavy stage giving up 10 spots to place 11th on the day.
It would be Sebastian Loeb, who admittedly claims that navigation is his weak spot, that would claim the top spot in the cars just eight seconds over 2014 Dakar winner Nani Roma. A minute and change back from Nani would be followed by Bernhard Ten Brinke. As it stands right now the 2wd Peugeot is still dominate in the hands of the master which is followed by the 4×4 X-Raid Mini and 4×4 Toyota of Gazoo Racing.
In the Moto category USA’s Ricky Brabec would lead most of the day only to back off just a bit at the end letting last years Dakar winner Matthias Walkner edge him out for the stage win with only 22 seconds separating them at the end of the stage. One could wonder if Ricky purposely backed off so to not have to open the road tomorrow as his checkpoint times were so solid throughout the day. The game of chess begins as the top 3 are collectively only a minute and a half apart on the overall standings.
In the SxS category Francisco Lopez Contardo of Chile held a commanding lead for the second half of the stage finishing with 19 seconds in hand over Reinaldo Varela of Brazil. American hopeful Casey Currie would incur a 20 minute penalty dropping him from 6th to 16th place. Although frustrating there is many days of racing left and as anyone who follows Dakar knows anything can and will happen right up to the very end.
Three time Dakar truck winner Eduard Nikolaev in his behemoth Kamaz came in 2 min39 sec in front of 2 time Dakar winner Gerard De Roy in his Iveco in what looks like will be the making of an all out battle for the title of this years 2019 edition. Following these two champions was Nikolaev’s teammate Dmitry Sotnikov also in a Kamaz.
Robby Gordons return to Dakar after a two year hiatus hasn’t seemed to go his way so far. Having an actual speed limit imposed on his vehicle because of its classification as a UTV. “What the ASO told us in the drivers briefing last night was that today’s stage would be a dune race and today would be majority dunes.” Said Gordon. “Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case we just cut across dunes and got back into valleys, along the beach for miles and miles for what could have been wide-open throttle for us. With the rule limitation they have on our car we had to remain at half throttle and play the speed control game. It’s very disappointing they have this rule on us. It wasn’t so bad yesterday as it only hurt us a little bit, but I wasn’t prepared for this today. We got passed by some pretty slow cars doing 50 mph faster than we were, and there’s nothing we could do about it. Other than the speed limit, today’s stage was a pretty uneventful besides getting stuck once. The car ran really good the whole time. We were running at 130 km/h what is 80 mph and just sitting there the whole time obeying the speed limit and the other competitors were just cruising by us like we were sitting still.”
Tomorrow’s stage will be San Juan de Marcona > Arequipa with a Liaison of 467 km (290mi) and Special of 331 km (205mi)