d You remember the scenery we was speaking about in our first contact? We are there now. Europeis now a souvenir, Mediterranean sea also. From now the main scene will be filled of the colours of the desert. Deep, dazzling blue an shining yellow in the first part of the journey, then
red soil and green trees in the following one. Until the blue ocean. Anywhere a consisting risk of foggy dust. Not in Er Rachidia, the small town that the riders joined this afternoon at the end of the last connection section of the stage.
In this scenario the pilots sometimes will meet rock mountains and plateaux, but rarely. For sure they will encounter any kind of difficulties along their long travel across northern African mainland. But for the moment any kilometre covered by the riders is useful to the riders in order to tuning the bikes and themselves. It is very important to synchronize the characteristic of the conduit with that ones of the track. For example. Today's stage was long and fast. Not the two transfer sections of 237 and 121 kms, but mainly the special test of 312 km.
The riders encountered many changes of direction, and they have to face a speed limit monitor for the first time. “For me it was an annoying stage”, said the today's new leader of the race Cyril Despres, “because of a new instrument installed on our console that we have to check continuously. The new rule of the Dakar impose a speed limit of 160 km/h (about 100 miles per hours), and a monitor connected with the GPS warn us when we are reaching this limit. Unfortunately is the same alarm of the “sentinel”, the overtake warning. With the same “beep”.
So with this new “entertainment” we are obliged to drive and open the gas intermittently. In addition I had a little problem with the bolts of the instrumentations, and the “traditionals” stony tracks of Morocco completed the today's “Menu”. Anyway I finished third and I reached the goal. I am fist overall and I am in the game. This the most important.
If the leader of the race is now Gauloises KTM Team member Cyril Despres, the protagonists of today' stage were the two “Andys”, Caldecott and Grider, In fact Andy Caldecott won the stage, and the Andy Grider was second. Both the Australian and the American are very satisfied: “To many rocks and stones everywhere, then many changes of direction“, said the Australian just after the finish line, “It was not a walk, but I am used to be fast when the track is fast, and I like very much large open spaces”.
For Andy Grider the first African stage of the rally was also the first African stage or his career: “Everything was new for me.” Asserts the debutant of the Red Bull KTM Team. “Our Manager Joe Barker has trained us in many tests in the american deserts, but this land is completely different. Every time you learn something and You can feel more and more confident. I enjoyed the stage, and all was under control. I started fast this morning. Rapidly the landscape changed. Suddenly a felt completely alone in the middle of the desert. But I also felt comfortable and I open the gas. In a few minutes I noticed far over there a cloud of dust. I forced and then I reached Andy (Caldecott). We drove together until the end of the special test, and there we discovered we was the first and the second of the rank.
Finally it was a good day also for Marc Coma, the Spaniard of the Repsol Team, that is second of the overall ranking tonight: “As we expect, the battle probably will be fight between me ad Cyril. So in the first days of the race we have to control each other. The most important in Moroccois to avoid any risk, falling down or damaging the bike. Then we will see. Of course the level of the participants has grown, and for sure we will face also other riders.”
Tomorrow's stage will reach Ouarzazate. Over 600 kilometres southward. One more long special test is announced. A special test still fast and with navigation problems, but mainly with the first dunes that the riders will encounter in the long road to Dakar.
Press Release KTM