A good day on the Dakar for Broadlink KTM Rally Team’s Curtis and Van Niekerk
The 2013 Dakar Rally in South America is starting to take a toll on the competitors as the special stages become longer and more difficult, but the all-South African Broadlink KTM Rally Team’s Darryl Curtis and Riaan van Niekerk are toughing it out and giving a good account of themselves.
The third day of the 15-day 8 400-kilometre race, which started in Lima in Peru on January 5 and ends in Santiago in Chile on January 20, featured a 343-kilometre stage three from Pisco to Nazca in Peru that included a tough 243-kilometre special stage in sand and dunes.
Curtis reached the overnight bivouac in Nazca in 22nd place on his factory KTM 450 Rally and is now 13th overall, 11 minutes behind the leader and defending champion Cyril Despres on another factory KTM. The stage winner was Francisco Lopez of Chile on a KTM, who is now second overall behind Despres.
Van Niekerk, riding in his first Dakar, had a good day in the dunes and finished the special stage in 20th position. He is now 25th overall, 12 minutes behind his team-mate and 23 minutes behind Despres.
Curtis: “The stage was similar to yesterday’s – lots of sand, a mixture of fast dirt tracks with fesh fesh (a local fine, powdery sand) and dunes. A really fast day. I started sixth and rode all day with David Casteu of France on a Yamaha. He’s a master and a good navigator and we managed to find the right way and ended up riding into the finish first on the road. Some of the riders who started behind us made up a lot of time on us. I’m quite happy. I had a safe day and am looking forward to tomorrow’s stage, which is a big one.”
Van Niekerk: “A very exciting day for me. I started 38th and had a lot of tracks to follow, so navigating wasn’t much of an issue for me. I’m happy with my finish position and looking forward to tomorrow’s stage. I’m expecting it to be a lot harder with lots of fesh fesh.”
Stage four on Tuesday between Nazca and Arequipa in Argentina is twice as long as Monday’s and the longest of the race so far, covering a total of 717 kilometres. It starts with a 429-kilometre liaison section before the competitors tackle a 288-kilometre special stage. It’s the stage of a thousand and one dunes, strung out in a never-ending desert capable of unsettling the best technical specialists.