The 135-mile (218-km) first segment of the Dakar 2013’s only marathon stage, won’t be remembered by the riders as a particularly special one. The stage presented no particular difficulties other than the dust and a navigation-heavy beginning which saw the riders approach the race with a calm and prudent attitude. The special test, at more than 10,000 feet (3000m) above sea level, proved to be a test in itself. Alessandro Botturi was the best of the Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain riders, taking 10th place, which could prove crucial ahead of tomorrow’s second marathon leg.
Joan Barreda and Paulo Goncalves, who set off from behind had to put up with an enormous amount of dust throughout the day. Both chose not to take risks. Barreda finished a dust-filled day with very little overtaking, in 21st place, and the Portuguese rider came in 26th.
Jordi Viladoms had a bad day at the office. During the transfer he stopped at the Lama pass border crossing some 14,700 feet (4500m) above sea level and was forced to seek aid from a medical car. He was given oxygen for fatigue. Jordi managed to restart and compete in the special. Matt Fish got back to the bivouac this morning after working on his bike in the neutralization zone yesterday and headed out on the second special in the dark. Matt didn’t throw in the towel as he realizes how important it’s going to be for his teammates to have his support over the next few days.
Tonight the riders will camp out in Cachi, without the mechanics, and will thus have to do any work on their TE449RRs themselves. They set off again tomorrow at 05:50 for another long stage, which is expected to be a complicated one.
The seventh stage of the Dakar has been marred by the death of the young French rider, Thomas Bourgin, 25, involved in a fatal accident during the long transfer.
The second leg of the marathon from Salta to San Miguel de Tucuman is predicted to be the toughest stage of the entire Dakar 2013. A total of 461 miles (739km) including 305 mile (492km) special test, which will be in two separate parts. After the special there will be a 142-mile (228-km) transfer to the camp where the riders have their rest day on the January 13th.
Alessandro Botturi: “It was a fairly calm stage, even if it was very long. I didn’t take any risks and didn’t push too much, as we were at such a high altitude and it wouldn’t have been right to overdo things. Starting out 10th suits me fine for tomorrow’s stage as it’s an important one and I want to attack.”
Paulo Goncalves: “I tried to get past the slower riders who started ahead of me but it was really tricky. It was just too dusty and dangerous. I managed to overtake three riders, but then I decided it was better not to take any chances, and so I sat in behind the group.”
Joan Barreda: “It was impossible to overtake today in the special, because there really was so much dust. I took it easy as my hand was causing me problems and I didn’t want to mess everything up before tomorrow’s special. This evening I will take something for the swelling, because I want to be in good shape for tomorrow’s important stage.”
Result Stage 7:
1. Caselli (USA, KTM) 1h51m31s
2. Lopez (CHL, KTM) +00:01:23
3. Pain (FRA, Yamaha) +00:01:23
4. Verhoeven (NLD, Yamaha) +00:01:30
5. Faria (PRT, KTM) +00:02:30
10. Alessandro Botturi (ITA, Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain) +00:04:39
21. Joan Barreda (ESP, Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain) +00:09:21
26. Paulo Goncalves (PRT, Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain) +00:10:17
44. Matt Fish (AUS, Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain) +00:21:11
Overall Standings after seven stages:
1. Pain (FRA, Yamaha) 17h28m17s
2. Lopez (CHL, KTM) +00:06:06
3. Casteu (FRA, Yamaha) +00:06:37
4. Faria (PRT, KTM) +00:09:42
5. Despres (FRA, KTM) +00:14:07
9. Alessandro Botturi (ITA, Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain) +00:30:18
25. Paulo Goncalves (PRT, Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain) +01:38:08
44. Joan Barreda (ESP, Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain) +03:47:30
139. Matt Fish (AUS, Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain) +22:41:04