Super-tough day at the office for Dakar riders

Quadbike leader has to bail before bike crashes off 400m cliff into a ravine

The third Dakar stage lived up to the promise of the organisers, who announced this year’s race would be tougher and go higher than ever before.The first part of the marathon stage in Argentina tested the racers around the Aconcagua mountain.

Wed, Jan 8, 2014, 10:18

The third Dakar stage lived up to the promise of the organisers, who announced this year’s race would be tougher and go higher than ever before.

The first part of the marathon stage in Argentina tested the skills and stamina of the motorcycle racers around the Aconcagua mountain. It was a brutal hindsight of what’s to come in the Andes.

For the first time ever in Dakar history a special test led up to 4,300 metres altitude, as the course was characterised by lots of treacherous turn-offs leading into nowhere.

After Alessandro Botturi unfortunately had to drop out of the rally on Monday, the Speedbrain customer race team enjoyed a very good day during stage three. Jeremias Israel Esquerre gave an error-free, calculated and very impressive performance, putting him in touch with the top 10 overall. Juan Carlos Salvatierra also rose to the occassion. The Bolivian, who started 34th, gained 10 positions in the overall ranking. Paolo Ceci and Pedro Oliviera also moved up.

The most dramatic incident of the day occured in the quadbike class.

Reigning champion and race leader Marcos Patronelli ran wide on a corner, and had to bail off his Yamaha before it crashed off a 400 metre cliff into a ravine.

Unhurt but stuck on the stage for some time, he was airlifted to the bivouac suffering from dehydration, his rally over.

The riders have to take care of their bikes themselves, outside assistance is not allowed during marathon stages. It would not be possible anyway, the team and rider bivouac are set up 50 km apart.

Team Coordinator Ulrich Hanus: “That was a brutal stage. Hats off to the riders, they provided fabulous motorsport. We are experiencing a great team spirit these days and we’re all looking forward to what’s ahead.”

Today brings the second part of the marathon stage. The 563-kilometre distance leads through technically demanding terrain and again navigation will be important.