Dakar 2013 Stage 3 Moto Wrap Up
What a difference a day makes…
Yesterday’s winner Joan Barreda has been training hard all year for this moment, the opportunity to lead off the stage and showcase his maturity as a rider. In rally, that mark is not in being able to command the lead during the stage, but to capitalize on clear track by being fast and navigating. Very few riders can maintain a stage setting pace while shouldering the burden of navigation. It takes tremendous amounts of skill but like every stage, a certain amount of luck as well. Barreda is keen to prove he has the skill, but luck was not on his side today.
Stage 3 was typical from the distance perspective as the daily stages continue to shrink into more technical tests. At 243km, it certainly isn’t the shortest stage, but it is one that will prove to catch more than a few riders out. Barreda was one of its initial casualties through in hindsight, he was lucky to escape without further time lost. Upon landing from a jump, the Husqvarna’s rear wheel and tire began to come apart. Barreda nursed a damaged wheel for the remainder of the stage. A loose spoke ended up cracking his fuel tank ultimately resulting in the Spaniard having to stop and wait for his water carrier, Australian Matt Fish to catch up so the two could swap fuel. In the end, Barreda finished the stage in a disappointing 44th place a full 33’02” behind the leaders.
Where Barreda was experiencing despair, Chilean superstar, Francisco “Chaleco” Lopez was experiencing elation in taking full advantage of the situation by storming into the lead and like Barreda a day ago, never looking back. Indeed, Chaleco lead through the remainder of the stage riding the wheels off his KTM to post the quickest time at each waypoint. After a lackluster Stage 2, Lopez was very happy to put in the performance that he did. The Chilean adding, “The stage was very different from what we went through during the first two days. I started from afar and went flat out throughout the stage in an attempt to catch up with Cyril Despres, which I think I managed to do. I focused on navigating and finding the waypoints, and everything went well.”
The day wasn’t all lost for the Speedbrain Husqvarna team though. Portuguese rider Paulo Goncalves who started 22nd on stage wasted no time in pulling up behind Lopez on the time sheets and sticking to his time. Goncalves completed the stage in 2nd place, a mere 1’08” adrift of Lopez. Goncalves added, “It was a fantastic stage for me. But I had to do pull something out of the bag after losing heaps of time yesterday due to navigational problems. At the start, I knew I'd be able to claw back time today if I attacked without throwing caution to the wind, and it paid off because I finished second. So I'm very happy. Tomorrow will be a big day but I'll try to build on today's momentum.”
Among the current crop of riders, there is no smarter tactician than KTM’s Cyril Despres. Seemingly uninterested in stage wins this year so far, Cyril has been content to hover near the top of the time sheets while conserving man and machine for when he needs to take control. His plans are paying off as Despres found himself 3rd on the stage today but jumping from 5th to 1st in the overall standings. Despres shows the maturity of his experience by letting the rest of the field chase the day to day accolades of stage wins while he quietly and calmly steals the rally out from underneath them. In Cyril’s typical downplaying manner, he stated, “For me a pretty good stage. Nothing extraordinary but I think it worked pretty well for the general. I started 21th, but I quickly caught up the front and then I opened the stage starting at km 190. Therefore knowing that I left 20 min Barreda and Pedrero I think it worked out pretty well for me.” Pretty well indeed.
After the disappointment of Stage 2, Speedbrain Husqvarna’s Alessandro Botturi redeemed himself by slotting in just behind Despres and taking the 4th place on the stage. 5th, 6th, and 7th, were all uneventful rides in for Polish rider Kuba Przygonski on his KTM, Chilean, Daniel Gouet on his Honda, and after a very busy stage 2 that almost saw him out of the rally, Gerard Farres Guell cruised home to a trouble free 7th place finish aboard his Wild Wolf Honda CRF.
Providing the color commentary was 8th place Dutchman, Frans Verhoeven who took quite a tumble and full expects to be battered and bruised tomorrow. As usual, Verhoeven took it in stride and didn’t miss the opportunity to praise his Team Yamaha Europe YZ450F as the “best bike I ever raced.” According to him, Frans’ guardian angel was watching over him. Rounding out the top ten was a great ride by Frenchman Olivier Pain in 9th and top HRC rider, Javier Pizzolito in 10th.
An early performer, Chile’s Pablo Quintanilla showed true form by not only hanging with the veterans, but firmly entrenching his Honda into 4th place until, like Joan Barreda, his wheel disintegrated before waypoint 3. Unlike Barreda, the young Chilean was unable to continue and finds himself out of the rally, a real shame as he was doing very well, but most likely, we have not seen the last of Quintanilla.
Trouble on the day fell to HRC’s Johnny Campbell who at a mere 20km into that stage, had to stop and fix a mechanical problem which saw the American dropping several hours to the leaders. Campbell would get running again to finish the stage on the pace, if not a few hours in arrears. Another HRC rider caught out today was Helder Rodrigues, the main rider who is being slated as the hopeful winner. The Portuguese rider fell back at the start of the stage but seemed to stabilize around 14th position thought the waypoints. After the final waypoint, Helder inexplicably dropped to 33rd which is where he finished the stage dropping to 28th in the overall standings a full 24’58” behind overall leader Despres.
Like Campbell, Canadian Don Hatton was also caught out early in the stage. After losing several hours, he is back on the move, clearing waypoints slowly but surely. Drama was in store for Pal Anders Ullevalsetter, the Norwegian posting an account on Facebook describing a near disaster. He claimed someone had dug a hole in the middle of the road and he had to dump his KTM down in order to narrowly avoid it as he came upon the scene at 150 km/h.
The landscapes on stage 3 stunned everyone including French Yamaha rider, David Casteu who remarked, “I caught up with the five leaders and then spent much of the stage at the front. I had a blast. It's always an emotional moment when you lead a Dakar special, because you know there's a huge caravan behind you. And then, just after a large dune 225 km into the stage, I discovered a stunning landscape. It was breathtaking! It was a really nice special and I've had a strong start to the Dakar. At any rate, I'm having loads of fun!”
Sherco’s James West in a beautiful place
Darryl Curtis’ roadbook shows that open dunes are not without their complications
Stage 4 begins to mark the transition from the sandy expanses of Peru into the rock variations of Chile. A marked difference from stage 3, the riders will begin to climb and climb up above 2,200 meters before the plunge back down towards sea level half way through the 429km special stage. Like today, stage 4 puts the riders right into the thick of things out of the bivouac and as they move on from Nazca towards a familiar destination in Arequipa, they will hope their bikes hold together for the 289km liaison after the special stage is completed. Chaleco Lopez is set to head to the start at 5:45 in the morning so set your alarm clocks and get ready for a long day of action.
Stage 4 Map:
Stage 4 Profile:
Stage 3 Results:
1 LOPEZ CONTARDO (CHL) KTM 002:37:54
2 GONÇALVES (PRT) HUSQVARNA 0:01:08
3 DESPRES (FRA) KTM 0:04:08
4 BOTTURI (ITA) HUSQVARNA 0:05:05
5 PRZYGONSKI (POL) KTM 0:05:20
6 GOUET (CHL) HONDA 0:06:35
7 FARRES GUELL (ESP) HONDA 0:06:58
8 VERHOEVEN (NLD) YAMAHA 0:07:22
9 PAIN (FRA) YAMAHA 0:07:28
10 PIZZOLITO (ARG) HONDA 0:07:39
Overall Standings After Stage 3:
1 DESPRES (FRA) KTM 006:15:03
2 LOPEZ CONTARDO (CHL) KTM 0:02:51
3 ULLEVALSETER (NOR) KTM 0:04:59
4 PAIN (FRA) YAMAHA 0:06:03
5 CASTEU (FRA) YAMAHA 0:06:08
6 ISRAEL ESQUERRE (CHL) HONDA 0:06:19
7 VERHOEVEN (NLD) YAMAHA 0:08:08
8 VILADOMS (ESP) HUSQVARNA 0:09:08
9 SVITKO (SVK) KTM 0:09:40
10 PRZYGONSKI (POL) KTM 0:09:45