Broadlink KTM Rally Team maintains top 20 positions on Dakar
The all-South African Broadlink KTM Rally Team of Darryl Curtis and Riaan van Niekerk took a step closer to the finish of the 8 500-kilometre Dakar Rally through Peru, Chile and Argentina when they successfully completed a tough, dusty and fast 219-kilometre between Cordoba and La Rioja in Argentina.
They both had a clean run, although they were both affected by the clouds of dust that hung over the route behind the riders who started ahead of them, and remain in the top 20 in the general classification after 11 days of the 15-day marathon rally from Lima, Peru, to Santiago, Chile.
Van Niekerk’s impressive rookie performance continues as he finished 20th on the day on his Broadlink KTM #40 and defended his 14th position overall. The stage was won by Joan Barreda Bort of Spain on a Husqvarna in a time of 4 hr 43 sec, 20 minutes ahead of the South African. Curtis started the day in 31st position on the road on Broadlink KTM #37 and finished 23rd. He is now 18th overall and 38 minutes behind his team-mate.
“We experienced very high temperatures today – in the mid-40s Centigrade,” said Curtis, who is looking for a second consecutive finish on the Dakar – he was a fine 22nd on his debut last year on a Broadlink KTM. “A long special test followed by a long liaison home. The special was very winding with fast tracks. It started off very dusty and then there was a nice, lonely section in the middle, like a small enduro section. It was very dangerous if you pushed hard in the dust. I had a good day and am happy with my current position.”
Van Niekerk: “We had an early start, at 7.45 am, and I sucked dust all the way to the finish. It was also very hot. I had some fast guys ahead of me and it was just impossible to get past them. Everything’s still going well, thankfully. I’m happy to have retained my overall position.”
Wednesday’s special stage 11 from La Rioja to Fiambala is a relatively short 221 kilometres sandwiched between a 256-kilometre opening liaison section and a 6-kilometre link to the overnight bivouac. It is without doubt the most feared stage on the Dakar and has been a significant day in each of the editions since the rally moved from Africa to South America in 2009. Forestry sections and some very fast stretches give way to the big white dunes of Fiambala and later a labyrinth of canyons and finally dry river beds on the final stretch to the end of the stage. Maximum concentration is required. Temperatures can rise to well above 40 degrees Centrigrade.