Darryl Curtis scores his best Dakar Rally stage result with sixth place on stage two
The first serious special stage of the 2013 Dakar Rally, a 242-kilometre test in the deep, soft sand and dunes around Pisco in Peru in temperatures that reached 40 degrees Centigrade, saw the Broadlink KTM Rally Team’s Darryl Curtis record his best-ever stage result with a fine sixth place in the motorcycle category.
He now lies seventh overall, 9 min 19 sec behind overall leader Joan Barreda Bart of Spain on a Husqvarna and only 29 seconds behind 2012 winner Cyril Despres of France in fifth place, who was among several of the top riders he beat today.
The Spaniard won Saturday’s stage from Curtis’ factory KTM team-mate, Juan Pedrero of Spain, who is now third overall behind KTM team-mate Ruben Faria of Portugal.
Riaan van Niekerk, riding the second Broadlink KTM Rally Team machine, finished 38th after encountering navigation problems on his first real race day in the dunes and is 33rd overall, 22 min 36 sec behind the leader.
“I started off 25th this morning and managed to hook up with some of the fast riders,” said Curtis. “I got lucky around the 75-kilometre mark when there was some confusion about the right route to follow. I followed the experienced Portuguese Honda rider Helder Rodrigues (who finished third in the 2011 and 2012 Dakar Rallies) and we were correct when the others were wrong. I rode with a group of about 10 of the top riders and had a really good stage, finishing ahead of Despres and Rodrigues.
“My navigation is not good, so I’m going to have to latch on to the top riders again and try and hold on to my position.”
Van Niekerk was pleased to have got through the first real test of this year’s Dakar. “It was very dusty with lots of dunes. I’m still getting used to riding my first Dakar and the navigating, which is difficult. There are quite a few days ahead of me, so I can only improve.”
Monday’s stage three from Pisco to Nazca includes a 100-kilometre liaison section before a 243-kilometre special stage. Ahead lies a sequence of dunes called Ergs in Africa. All the competitors who go over them without getting stuck will be able to proudly breathe a sigh of relief. Their reward will be to take advantage of the route along the sea front on the second half of the special stage, but they will have to beware of tracks at the end of the stage that will require all their skill and vigilance.