Tue 12 March 2013

Dakar 2013: Second week HT Honda Rally Raid

The rest day in Tucaman came as a delight especially for Juan Carlos, after his unlucky day. The riders can take their rest and the mechanics have to work hard to fix the bikes and make them ready for a second week of the Dakar.

And then we take off again in the direction of Cordoba with a long special of 593 km. The special is in two parts, but however very long and hard. It consists of fast tracks, rocky, twisty, narrow and with a lot of vegetation. Riders have to be very careful even when they are speeding so fast. In the start of the second part of the special Jeremias is confronted the hard way with this tricky stage, he misses part of a curve, hits a stone and falls on his head. He hurts his face, breaks his helm and goggles, the front of the bike is fractured too and he has to continue like this for the next 200 km of the special. However he manages to arrive as 24th and as he did not change the motor of his bike during the rest day, he keeps his top ten position. Juan Carlos has a very good day and strongly retakes his position after his unlucky day. It was hard and difficult but he arrives on a 45th position, which is very good as he started 105th. Overall he keeps a 44th position. The next morning we unfortunately have to leave this beautiful bivouac nearby Cordoba, next to a lovely lake, it almost seems a holiday in Italy.

The 10th stage leads the riders through the same kind of tracks as the day before in the direction of la Rioja. There the bivouac is placed on a race circuit in a very heavy heat of over 45 degrees. This will be one of the toughest elements in the upcoming days. And again a very long stage of 357 km. It is heavy due to the heat, the dust en lots of sand. So now and then they are lucky to cross a little river and feel a bit of cold water. But this makes it also dangerous to fall and that is unfortunately what happens to Jeremias. He falls down in a river bed, not too hard, but it costs him of course time. He enters as 18th. Juan Carlos continues his way back towards the top 20 and has a strong day with a 33rd position. The night falls but does not offer a lot of coolness, it will be difficult to catch sleep this night for everybody. Fortunately we have to get up early again, as the first bike leave at 5.15 to get to the dunes of Fiambalá.

The 11th stage leads from La Rioja to Fiambalá, not too much kilometres with a liaison of 256 km and a special of 221 km. And afterwards part of the special was cancelled as it rained so much that the rivers became too deep to pass by motorbike. The rain made the dunes of Fiambalá a little bit easier to ride, but they still are famous for every rider and never underestimate them. Juan Carlos is in great shape and deserves his 13th position this day! With this result he climbs some places in the overall ranking and enters the top 30 with a 29th ranking. Jeremias encounters a few navigation problems and receives today also his penalty for a new engine in the bike, but overall he stays on the 16th position, so a good result.
In stage 12 the riders go from Fiambalá to Copiapó with a long special of 319 km. But this stage starts in the early morning first with a liaison of 392 km to pass again the Andes in the direction of Chili. This makes the stage quite heavy, some of them even have a headache due to the height we have to pass, almost 5.000 meter. The special consists of very fast tracks with lots of stones, but also of the dunes in the Atacama desert, a long and hard day. Juan Carlos is doing really great and feels confident, he shows his navigation skills and enters as 19th rider. Today is not the lucky day for Jeremias, he falls and breaks his roadbook and has to continue without being able to use his roadbook. He follows another rider but in the dunes he has to continue his own track which makes it very difficult. And when his bike in the second part of the special shows technical problems, he really has an off-day. He enters late in the bivouac and this is of course not good for his ranking…..

The 13th stage leads the riders from the Atacama desert towards la Serena. Again the special is in two parts, the first part is very fast and rocky with at the end a few dunes. The second part is very rocky but bad, the speed has to be adapted to make sure not to fall down.  But both riders do very well, Juan Carlos finishes 19th and Jeremias, who had to start at the back of the group finishes on a beautiful 29th position.

And then we all prepare for the last rally day, heading towards the podium in Santiago de Chili! But even if it is the last day of this Dakar edition, it still is a serious stage with two liaisons of in total 122 and 158 km and a special of 346 km. A special with extra difficulties due to the weather which is not that beautiful on our last day, lots of rain and mist. However, the riders feel the finish is getting close and do not take too much notice of the weather. The first part of the special went very good and arriving at the VIP area, they will only have to show for a last round of 12 km off-road for the sponsors and press.  Jeremias finishes this last Dakar day on a great 7th position, showing that he can ride in the top ten and he will be back next year! Juan Carlos finishes on a nice 23rd position, very glad to be at the finish and wearing his Bolivian flag with pride. Both did a great job on this Dakar and as a team we are proud to see them on the podium in Santiago the next day.

Overall Juan Carlos Salvatierra finishes his third Dakar on a very good 29th position and Jeremias Israël finishes his first Dakar, despite two time penalties, on a 57th position. A good result for the riders of HT Honda Rally Raid!

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