"In Dakar you can be competing or surviving. When you suddenly come upon extreme situations, you go from being a rider to being a survivor. Then the minutes are not meaningful. What makes sense are the hours and even days." It is a phrase from the voice of experience of Team Gas Gas in this Dakar. The great Miguel Puertas, with a dozen editions behind him, endorses the thesis of those who pointed out that this would be the toughest Dakar which was ran in South America. "Of the ten that I have run, I only remember the 2004 edition, where three stages were canceled"
Coincidentally, the head of the competition for the Spanish brand, Jordi Jordana, who notes that "A Dakar is survival." Every day is a new adventure and "we have worked mechanically around the clock for these bikes." According to Jordana "cases such as the abandonment of Gerard Farrés by branches that are caught in the crankcase covers are uncontrollable." The competition chief said that "the first week has been tough with the weather" but of the four official Gas Gas EC 450 Raid, three are continuing. "There have been many dropouts and we have advanced in the standings. They are doing a good job," he concludes.
Like the other team members, Marc Guasch with less than half of this Dakar completed, he is tired but excited. For the best-ranked team - in the Top 30 of the general - "it has been a tough Dakar" and despite the minor hiccups with the fuel pump a few days ago, "the balance is positive so far." The rider from La Garriga highlights that "the team and the mechanics are top notch" and that engine has not changed. "We know a lot and still have plenty of life left"
A rookie on fire
"Dani Oliveras always surprises," says the head of competition, Jordi Jordana, the fifth highest ranked junior in this Dakar. "He did it in the Baja Aragón with a standard bike, passing factory bikes where others could not," said Jordana. "Every day he is more smooth and has forgotten the stiffness. And mechanically it's perfect. He takes good care of the Gas Gas EC 450 Raid because it handles very fine "
The protagonist follows the path of carpe diem . "I've been watching the stages and discovering the difficulties of navigating and the pace to be carried." Dani Oliveras highlights his race, which has clearly went from less to more . "Every day I've been pressing, depending on the stage. But I have no experience with caution until the end." His toughest moment came in the fifth stage . "I met a lot of people who were dehydrated and some burnt motorcycles, and lost my rhythm because I didn't know what I would encounter" He missed a waypoint that cost him a one hour penalty. "I caught cars going in the opposite direction, just to get down lower. I saw it was dangerous and decided to skip the waypoint. I did not know it involved a time penalty. One of the things you learn, but the question is to end each day." The Girona claims his trial technique "helps but what counts is physical strength. In the third stage, with it being so high, with so many kilometers in a riverbed, my hands were dead, without any strength. I need to work more to address the raid "
They value the rest-day before what is next to come. "The important thing was to get to this day of rest," said Marc Guasch. "We'll see how we feel in the high altitude stage tomorrow. And in Chile there are two very long specials, one of 600 km and a pair of 400. Much remains of Dakar and anything can happen." According to head competition "the temperatures have dropped so much and will now be more tolerable for this Dakar." Experience tells Miguel Puertas this week "any break-down or crash, even without the race being so hard. Physically and morally we're ready to attack the rest of the week."
From a distance, Gerard Farrés - who left in the fifth stage, says, "It was hard to leave but be positive and see how well we have worked with all the team: the mechanics, the riders. We have done a great job." Despite his premature abandonment, he highlights the role of his three companions that "they will do a good job and help. We start working for the next edition of the Dakar and to have a bike that allows us to fight for victory. "