- Stage 3
- San Rafael > San Juan
- Connection 292 km
- Special stage 373 km
- Total 665 km
Just when you think the race is starting to settle down the Dakar bites back with a startling series of surprises, with difficult navigation and technical enduro terrain leaving yesterday’s rankings is chaos.
The good news is that this evening Cyril Despres moves up from 8th to 2nd overall, 13’04 behind Barreda. The bad news is that Frans Verhoven’s (Yamaha Netherlands Verhoven Team) race has come to a premature end after he crashed out with a broken elbow. For his part Olivier Pain continues to climb up the leader board and is this evening in 8th place overall (at 36’33) while Michael Metge ‘did the job’ bringing home an ‘as new’ set of tyres to this evening’s marathon stage for Cyril to use tomorrow.
“Today’s special has to go straight into the Top 5 most stunning specials I have done in 13 years of racing rallies – and in that time I’ve been to some pretty amazing places! As announced, the recent rains had really cut up the first part of the special and the riding was far from easy. Then at kilometre 299 we came to this incredible 3 kilometre climb. It was a really really hard to get up and I can only begin to imagine how many riders will go out of the race at that point – and it’s not just the amateurs who are going to struggle. Then after that we rode for about 60 kilometres on stunning tracks over a series of mountain ridges, as beautiful as they were difficult to navigate. Towards the end I came up behind and past both David Casteu and Marc Coma. All in all an excellent day that more than makes up for yesterday’s disappointments.”
“This morning I gave Cyril my word I’d give him some ‘prefect’ tyres this evening and I’m proud to say I was able to keep that promise. I started off really slowly, perhaps too slowly, and then found an optimum pace using the ‘berms’ left by the riders in front of me so as to keep my speed as constant as possible and stay off the brakes. The other big positive from today was the route designed by David Castera, which was just amazing. Today we went to places you could only ever go on a motorcycle, preferably a trials bike, and it was a unique experience. And just to top it all, apart from swapping over our wheels, Cyril and I have very little to do to the bikes. We’ll do our road books now and then change the oil when it cools down a little.”