Toby Price wins, Goncalves suffers more ‘bad’ luck and the stage is cut short amid serious controversy. It was Stage Nine of the Dakar and it was savagely tough.
The controversy stick got whacked all over Dakar yesterday as the stage was cut more than 100km short due to excess heat and struggling competitors, a move that has caused the organisers to receive flak all fronts with a large number of the competitors and teams stating that it was a preposterous move.
Toby Price quietly voiced his discontent to the TV camera’s with big names including Sven Quandt of the X-Raid Mini Team, Laia Sanz, David Casteu and many more stating that while the stage was both difficult and hot it was not unacceptably so.
The biggest complaints were centred around this being the first tough stage of the event with many racers down the pecking order also stating that the cancellation was unnecessary .
Sanz was quoted on here website as saying “Today was the first day that was like a Dakar stage should be and it’s how the whole event should be. I do not agree with the decision. I wanted to finish the whole stage. This is the Dakar and it has to be hard. If only 50 motorcycles reach the finish, then 50 motorcycles get there, you can not lower the bar at the first difficulty.
While the organisers cited the high temperatures and competitors struggling as the reason for the shortening of the stage, the more likely reason is centred around the difficulty of rescuing the potentially large number of racers stranded in the difficult, hot, open desert conditions.
The cancellation has played heavily into the hands of HRC Honda’s Paulo Goncalves after the Portuguese rider damaged his radiator on a particularly stiff desert branch. Stranded at CP2, having given up hope of dragging his over-heating, waterless CRF to the end of the stage, he was able to be towed via the liaison to the finish of the day.
The end of the day presented a marathon bivouac. For the the third year in a row a factory team rider would be changing their engine themselves. If all goes well for Goncalves, he’ll be able to take the start for stage ten.
The next stage in Dakar is also set to be a brutal day. It’s due to feature the longest set of dunes since the race left the expansive sands of the Mauritania. The only blessing for the racers is the heavy rains that have fallen over night, which will undoubtedly aid their crossing on the infamous Fiambala.
- There is a rumour that the riders and more importantly Goncalves are/were going to be reinstated to the CP 1 times. The internet lost itself.
- The timings that have been awarded don’t seem to make any sense. However Ricky Brabec was awarded a stella second place. Many of the top riders have been docked hefty amounts of time, despite being stopped from entering the last 100km of special.
- It seems the crazy mass-start will see the top ten bikes, top ten cars and top five trucks all start together. We should feel sorry for the bike riders that have to follow them. Expect destroyed dunes and tough riding.
- There is speculation the stage was cut short to help HRC save face after Goncalves had trouble. It sounds like fanciful dreaming but isn’t that the beauty of a rumour.