Broadlink KTM’s Curtis and Van Niekerk survive a bad weather day on the Dakar 2013
Curtis has a big crash and limps home
Van Niekerk gets to practice his navigating
Extreme weather conditions which saw heavy rain cause flash floods and damage to the Dakar 2013 route resulted in the organisers reducing the length of Wednesday’s special stage 11 of the Dakar 2013 Rally between La Rioja and Fiambala in Argentina.
The 136 surviving bike riders out of an original 183 who started the rally in Lima, Peru, on January 5 missed the worst of the weather as they start each day ahead of the cars and trucks. Most of them were able to complete the day’s shortened route, including the all-South African Broadlink KTM Dakar 2013 Rally Team of Darryl Curtis and Riaan van Niekerk.
Van Niekerk, on Broadlink KTM #40, finished 19th and improved his overall position to 13th with just three days of the rally left before it ends in Santiago, Chile, on Sunday. Curtis, who was badly bruised after a fall, limped to the end of the stage in 75th position on Broadlink KTM #37 and is now 21st overall.
Due to the flash flooding of rivers that crossed the route, affecting many of the cars and trucks and some of the bikes and quads, the organisers decided to use the first check point (CP1) as the finish point for all categories.
It was a day full of drama, said Curtis, nursing his bruised body at the overnight bivouac. “A very dangerous stage. I didn’t like it from the start. I had a big crash. I hit a ditch and went over the handlebars and landed upside down under the bike. I’m in a lot of pain. I’ve hurt my back, my shoulder and my wrist. I limped into the finish using just first and second gears. I rode 70 kilometres to the finish in absolute agony. I’ve been x-rayed. There are no bones broken, but I’ve got a lot of bruising.”
Van Niekerk: “I got a bit lost in the first four kilometres after making a rookie mistake. Other than that I just concentrated on the road book and keeping out of trouble in the dangerous conditions. There were lots of holes and washaways because of all the rain. It caught out a lot of riders.”
Thursday’s stage from Fiambala in Argentina to Copiapo sees the surviving car competitors (only 96 out of an original 153 started Wednesday’s stage) cross the Andes Mountains from east to west via the Paso de San Francisco and return to the Atacama Desert to experience every kind of difficulty that exists in a long distance rally. The major sections of dunes are situated right in the middle of the 319-kilometre special stage. There are ‘cathedral‘ dunes to climb and deep basins just as big. There are also tracks with lots of stones.
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