A special of 182 kilometers, with less then 10 km resembling a track
That a short stage can create a lot of havoc in the ranking is common knowledge, but ASO doens't announce their specials like that. Yesterdays' special was tough and difficult. Christopher Jarmuz:
"For me it was the toughest special in Dakar ever!". Mirjam Pol notes that only 10 out of 182 kilometers special might be considered a track. The rest was old riverbed, weak stuff, loose sand, dunes and fes fes. Competitors that reach the finishline are exhausted. Not a good day for heavy bikes, and certainly not for cas and trucks. We've been worried about our riders all day due to iritrack problems, but luckily everyone has finished today!
Christopher Jarmuz (45) was the first Honda rider to finish. After a few strong words about the special and how he had to fight to reach the finishline he went to his tent to get some sleep. Exhausted. It was the toughest special in his Dakar career so far. "Extremely difficult", and he was worried he would not reach the finishline. But he did, with good results.
Gerben Vruggink (60) entered the bivouacas second rider, with Mirjam Pol (63) right behind him. Gerben has climbed a few places in the ranking today and can start as 60th. The special was difficult, he says, with the first 20 km being old riverbeds with soft sand. "Three times Havelte", a famous Dutch traningground, "you sink in the sand and cannot do much about it". Afther the riverbeds the dunes started, with a climb of 600 meter. "I managed to reach the top in one go, and not everyone can say so. But when I got there I took a little break. After I had something to drink in the shade of the bike I went on, but cautiously." The round dunes were fun to drive, easy and pleasant, he says.
Due to the heat, the hight and the quality of the fuel it evaporates right from your fueltank. Gerben says his tanks were empty even before CP2. "I asked the locals for fuel, but I don't speak any spanish so that was difficult. Then someone shouted :Hey Gerben, how are you" in Dutch! It was a Argentinan women who spoke Dutch and immediately made some arrangements. Within 3 minutes a guy on a moped appeared. They lifted the moped, turned it around above my fueltank so I had fuel and send me back into the race!" Unfortunately there was no fuel at CP2, so I had to continue. Near CP3 I went looking for fuel again with some locals and with their help managed to reach the finishline. "I had a great day, although I'd rather not have specials like this everyday!"
Mirjam Pol lost a lot of time today.. looking for fuel! She wasn't happy, because this terrain is her party. She didn't crash and could ride as she wanted. "Your bike just sinks in this sand, it was a struggle to get through. My fueltanks were empty in a minute!" While I was waiting for a vaporlock to go away I met a group of quaddrivers. they were watching Dakar, and had 20L fuel with than. They gave it to me, with their businesscards and a request to send e-mail when I get back in the Netherlands. Don't you just love these people?" Also I heard a bike coming from a distance - enginge shutting down and someone get really angry. It was Patrick Trahan who also was out of fuel.
Patrick Trahan (99) had fuelproblems as well. We tried to help locating him, but everytime we had found he had made arrangements himself and was on the way again. He reached to finishline, and dropped into his tent to get some sleep.
Aloys Ressing (89) and Tonny Krabbenburg (124) have shown what life experience means in Dakar today. The 'old men' as they call themselves keep riding and riding and have made progress in the ranking. At first, Aloys rode as last, being overtaken by Tonny at the start of the special. "I could not keep up with him, this is really his kind of stuff". Still Aloys is happy on his bike. "I lot 4 hours searching for fuel. You get into fun situations with the locals. People take you to their homes or have someone fetch fuel for you. As I did not have any presents with me I gave them the cap of one of the rear tanks. With enough fuel on his bike he managed to finish in the top 90!
As Team Honda we've had our worries on Tonnies whereabouts all day long. For no good reason, appeared after all. His electronics did not function correctly so he did not show up on iritrack. In the end he managed to finish at 22:30h local time. He also was delayed by lack of fuel. "At 117km I had water in my tanks. I could remove it. Finally with the help of local people I managed to reach the finishline. With them I would not have made it!"
Team honda Europe is happy with the results of the riders on this difficult special. Everyone has finished, and except for the fast evaporating fuel we had no serious problems. On the 5th of january we'll cross the border to Chili, afther which the sand and dunes start.