It was another steady day for Broadlink KTM’s Riaan van Niekerk. Riaan started 4th in the morning, riding safely through the dusty stage. There were lot’s of sharp turns with drop off’s and this is where Francisco Lopez crashed out of the rally, he fell down a huge drop off and has broken his hand. Besides a few cuts and bruises the KTM Red Bull Factory rider got off lightly. The attrition rate has been more than 50% for the first half of this year’s Dakar. Riaan had a safe ride finishing the stage in 13th position securing his 14th overall position.
Dakar 2014 Today riders get to rest:
The competitors were relieved to see the rest day, the first half of this years Dakar has been more intense than normal putting around 100 of the 180 bikes out of the rally. Harder technical sections and longer racing stages have taken their toll, big crashes, fatigue and de hydration have slowly but surely eliminated half the field including three of our team, Ruben Faria, Ben Grabham and then Chaleco Lopez.
We woke up to an overcast sky, welcoming the cooler weather and in the afternoon the rain came, slowly at first and then a downpour sending crews scrambling to shelter mechanics and equipment. The KTM Factory team is super professional and all the bikes were finished early this morning. The bikes were almost stripped to nothing, checked and re assembled. There is no room for error here, Marc Coma has a 42 minute 17 second lead over Honda’s Juan Barreda. Jordi Viladoms holds fourth 1 hour and 8 minutes behind Marc. Riaan is 14th overall and Brett Cummings is 29th overall.
After washing some kit we spent some time with Neil Wooldridge and the Ford Team, Chris Visser told us how he rolled his Ford Ranger out of the rally on the second day after dropping off a dune, the team are in high spirits and will continue looking after Lucio Alvarez.
Sebastian Loeb came to meet the team this morning and we had a braai at the Red Bull tent. Then it was time for the road book and riders briefing, the team will be in bed early tonight, tomorrow will be the start of their second marathon stage with a two day stint in Bolivia, the second half of Dakar will be interesting, only those that stay focused, will survive.
Dakar 2014: Sunday 12th January – Salta to Uyuni
Liaison section: 334 km Special stage: 232 km Neutral section: 8 km Special section: 161 km Liasion section: 33 km
It will be straight into another marathon stage, it will also be the competitors and the Dakar’s first to Bolivia. They will experience a visual shock and be perturbed by the maze of tracks through which they will have to navigate. The beautiful setting and spectacular scenery will not make the task any easier. They will head for the remote bivouac in Unyuni on the edge of the salt flat, where they will spend the night at 3600 meters