8th stage: First rider out of the race for Team Honda Europe
In the 8th special from Antofagasta to Copiapo Mirjam Pol had to end her battle to reach Dakar. During a presumable innocent crash she broke some of her ribs and injured her back. It will cure, but she cannot continue
her race. It might even be the result of one of her big crashes three days ago. Two French riders have alarmed the helicopter which was on site in a minute. The doctor decided: you cannot continue your race. A big disappointment for Pol, who will not finish Dakar for the first time.
The special was dangerous, stretching over 472 kilometers. A lot of stones till km 382 meant riders needed to work hard to get through. It showed on the tires after the race. Christopher Jarmuz is the highest ranking rider in Team Honda Europe. As he pulls the throttle quite hard he gets new Dunlops every day, the others need them every other day. The last part of the special went through sanddunes, and ended with a spectaculair downhill section to the bivouac. Compared to a few days ago Copiapo is quite a bit warmer.
Christopher Jarmuz (31 in the stage, 30 overall) had a big crash, but nevertheless a good day. He climbed to the 30th place, and was ranked 25th before crashing. The differences between the riders are small so he still has some chances. "10 km before the tankstop I went off head first. I was checking the tripmaster, as a rider in front of me made an unexpected turn. It happened in a second. Before crashing I could overtake several others. At first I did not move, I was afraid I had snapped a bone somewhere. Luckily I didn't, only the bike was damaged. In the dunes I made no mistakes at all, a good finish to such a day."
Gerben Vruggink (51 in the stage, 46 overall): It was a dangerous ride with all these rocks. The first 60 km I rode in the dust because I had lost time friday when my chain broke. You have to be carefull when overtaking someone. In the dunes I took it easy as I did not want to make a mistake with the roadbook. I managed to get alle waypoints, quite difficult as they where on top of the dunes. Difficult stage, but certainly no complaints!"
Patrick Trahan (56 in the stage, 58 overall) picked a proven strategy on this stage. No stops for no reason, keep up a decent speed. He had three 'moments' in the rocky section, catching stones with his front wheel. The rim had several dents afterwards. "It was like day three, I had trouble with the fuel getting hot in the first part of the stage. At the tankpost I filled up again and that helped. In the dunes I got stuck twice, which isn't my style. No problems or anything, but it was not neccessary. Despite the long day I don't feel tired at all, which is a good sign."
Tonny Krabbenborg (72 in the stage, 89 overall) had a good day and set a great time. "I slept a few hours yesterday and felt relaxed this morning. I rode my own speed and sat happily on my bike. I met Mirjam and tried to help her get through the day. But it did not work. A few minutes later I saw her with the heli, and it was good to know that she's ok. Too bad she had to leave the race. For me, it was a different day. If the following stages are like this, count me in!
Aloys Ressing (92 in the stage, 91 overall) finished a little bit later than Tonny. He also spend some time with Mirjam. "It's sad for her. I helped her with the bike, trying to get her back in the rally. When the doctor came he pulled the cables from the GPS to show he was serious about not going any further. I stayed for 45 minutes with Mirjam and went on. 400 Kilometers with stones could be left out next time, I think. But the last 70 km in the dunes made up for everything before. I had a bad night, and the first part of the stage I had to regain my confidence on the bike.
As fog is expected in the early hours of the 11th of january the rally starts later and the roadbook is shortened. The finish is at CP2, at km178, with a connection to La Serena. Mirjam Pol tries to accompany the team to the next bivouac or to fly to Buenos Aires. She wants to be at the finish in Buenos Aires. The stage tomorrow will go through dunes, camelgrass and off-piste through sand. It will be interesting, also for the top ten. Who reaches La Serena has passed the difficult stages