The Dakar Rally
Helder Rodrigues, fresh from winning the first stage of the Morocco Rally, today had the difficult task of opening the track in a demanding 315 km stage, characterized by very difficult navigation and 22 kms of dunes of the Erg Chebbi to cross from south to north. A very high sun made the navigation even tougher.
The TEAM HRC rider fought hard with Marc Coma and Cyril Despres and finally finished 3rd behind despres, who claimed todays stage, in front of Coma and Rodigues. Helder Rodrigues is third in the General Classification, just 51 seconds behind the leader Cyril Despres.
Felipe Zanol, 8 times Brazilian Enduro Champion and 5 times Brazilian Cross Country Champion, rode consistently, focusing on navigation and getting experience in the high dunes of Merzouga. In his debut on the African terrain, Felipe finished in the top ten and is 10th in the overall classification.
A very good day for the 23-year old Sam Sunderland. His 14th finishing position in SS2 doesn't show his real race result as his start was complicated by a technical issue that made him lose almost 30 minutes. Sam race pace would have assured him a top 5 finish.
The 3 times Rally Argentinian Champion Javier Pizzolito continued making experience on the new Honda machine focusing on navigation in preparation of the Dakar 2013. He finished 14th, 12th in the overall classification.
Starting in 39th position, due to a 1h30 penalty for having missed 3 way points in SS1, Johnny Campbell recovered 19 positions, finishing 20th, after an accurate navigation in the dunes and a fast ride in the final hard, rocky tracks, familiar to the 11 times Baja 1000 winner.
The Stage. Liaison: 27 kms selective sector: 315 kms Liaison: 17 kms
The rally starts to get tough with a very demanding second stage that sees first a navigated part of fast, rocky track before arriving to the big dunes of Merzouga. The riders will cross the dunes for 22 kms from south to north, for the whole length of the Erg. Riding into the wind will represent an extra challenge. Afterwards the riders will finish on the same route as the start of yesterday's stage with open track and several dangers. Moreover the route will be much more damaged after the passage of yesterdays competitors.