Dakar Rally Argintina Chile 2010
January 31, 2010 GMT
Dakar Rally 2010

January 2010 Update Argentina/Chile Dakar 2010

Progress was slow…. four days of bike work, physio and rest and we were almost done. The Dakar Rally was already crossing into Chile and we had not left Buenos Aires. On the 5th January we finally made our move after saying goodbye to Ed (USA), Brian & Marie (Can), Tony (Holland) and Ludovit who arrived and left within 24 hours. It was also a sad farewell to Javier, Sandra and Julian from Dakar Motos. At 5.30 pm as we sighted a storm brewing in the west. We departed, determined to cover at least a 100 kms before bunking down for the night. Efforts to dissuade us failed. This short ride was to be a test to our physical well being and our chance to continue the rigors of following the Dakar Rally. Reaching Sarmiento we scrambled into a cozy room just before the heavens opened up. Gusting wind and rain knocked out the electricity in the middle of the TV coverage of the Dakar. Today was our first ride since the accident and other than a little stiffness all went well. Our confidence was not lacking and we were keen to continue, a good sign as the next few days would make or break our resolve. I have to admit though every time the bike ‘wiggled’ due to irregular road surfaces we stopped to check tyre pressures. Paranoia!!!

001 Storm broken Eucalypts on road to Jesus Maria ARG.jpg
Storm damaged eucalypts on the road to Jesus Maria

002 Canopy of trees Jesus Maria.jpg
Canopy of trees Jesus Maria

Over 700 kms the next day to Jesus Maria with the weather cloudy and cool making easy riding. The plains had received a lot of rain and the surrounds were very green, almost swampy and we noted a lot of broken trees from previous storms. A late lunch stop at a road house and the hot food we had hoped for could not be provided as power had been lost the previous night in a storm. At the end of the day we were tired but none the worse for the effort. I continued to do my physio and the shoulder felt fine. The only bodily hindrance from the accident now was our ribs which occasionally gave us both a sharp reminder if we moved the wrong way.

Satisfied our fitness was adequate we aimed for Fiambala the next day, a distance of over 600 kms. This second long day took its toll and we were quite exhausted but adjourning to the bed for an early night prepared us for the 4,700+ metre Andes climb through Paso San Francisco. The race had just completed this route a few days before and we were surprised to be greeted with a ‘no gas’ sign at the only garage in town. Returning to our lodgings we queried the owner where petrol could be located. She returned with her son, woken from a deep slumber who asked to replace Carol on the bike so he could guide me to a private house where petrol was sold.

003 Dakar had been this way Fiambala.jpg
Dakar had been this way in Fiambala

I was a little concerned at our late departure as we had heard mixed reports about Paso San Francisco. Altitude causes heavier gasoline consumption on carburetored bikes so we carried three extra litres which we hoped would allow us to ride the 500 + kms distance. We considered our options about 80 kms from Fiambala as we emptied the three litres into the tank. The head wind encountered so far compounded the situation so our speed dropped to conserve fuel. The early part of the ride was not complicated with a great road surface and little traffic. Scenery was monotonous with little vegetation and wildlife. Climbing, the grasses completely disappeared and several cone shaped hills and mountains cut into the cool blue sky. ‘Hope these volcanoes are still asleep’ I murmured over the intercom.

004 The climb begins to Paso de  San Francisco.jpg
The climb begins to Paso de San Francisco

005 The straights.jpg
The straights

006 The curves.jpg
The curves

007 More fuel.jpg
More fuel

The quality road surface continued for over 200 kms until the border where the pavement got a little chopped up. Argentinian customs were slow.…surprising us as they are usually very efficient and courteous. One official took a fancy to the recently purchased Dakar caribena until I disclosed we were not Dakar Officials and the item had cost me 15 pesos.

Despite reports to the contrary we were able to obtain gasoline at the border, dispatched from 44 gallon (200 litre) drums. Maybe these were also provided to assist the Dakar vehicles. With this top up we were able to increase the pace a little but immediately after the Paso de San Francisco sign, a loose gravel surface appeared. The adventure began as we twisted and bounced our way towards the Pacific Ocean some 300 kms away. The scenery was spectacular with multicolored mountains; some freckled with snow to match Paso de Jama. A large turquoise salt water lake added to the beauty and we sighted a couple of motorcyclists swimming in the freezing waters. For sure … they were stronger folks than these tropical wanderers!!!

008 The top Argentina.jpg
Top of the pass Argentina

009 The top Chile.jpg
Top of the pass Chile

Chile entry was quick and correct as we continued towards the coast. The broken surface continued with a mixture of gravel and smooth dirt. An empty semi trailer overtook us then slowed to a crawl through a small paved canyon. We were able to overtake at a very tight section but 30 minutes later he roared past us again doing in excess of 130 kph disappearing over the distant hills as the sun slowly dropped annoyingly into our line of sight.

010  Devoid of life animal plant and volcano.jpg
Devoid of life….animal, plant and volcano

011 Ripio and a very cold lake.jpg
Ripio and a very cold lake

012  Desolate and cold.jpg
Desolate but beautiful

Somewhere along this section the descent slowed and the road improved to the point I thought we were riding pavement but looking closer it was probably compacted oil saturated soil. Again our fast moving truck appeared in the distance.... parked. We closed in rapidly but as we flashed by saw a discontented driver with the bonnet up and a strong smell of overworked oil emanating from the engine. A cell phone was hard pressed to his ear!!

‘Copiapo’ at last. Oh what a welcome sign at around 6.30 pm. Some brief enquiries with locals we were directed to Hotel Del Sol (with secure parking) whose prices fortunately appeared to be unaffected by the onslaught of Dakar followers.

Our hard riding the past few days rewarded us with plenty of time to check where the finish line and bivouac were located for the completion of the Antofagasta - Copiapo section. Checking the internet we were able to get information on riders and positions. Unfortunately Gary Connell # 117 on the Husaberg crashed and injured his knee near Fiambala. Don Hatton #74 from Canada also crashed out near Fiambala

013 Somewhere in the desert.jpg
Somewhere in the desert

014 We were directed to the long way round.jpg
We were directed to the long way round

On the morning of the 10th we sighted our first race vehicles descending a huge dune down to the finish line. We parked the bike close to the road linking the sandy finish line and bivouac. Cars and bikes parked around the track with the dusty windy conditions almost overwhelming us. A speck appeared at the top of the dune and began weaving down the powdered sand towards the flagged corridor near the official’s tent. Ant like figures dotted the descent with several 4x4’s and motorcycles climbing to various points to gain a better view. The leaders in the bike section were stopped by media exiting the finish near the public area so Carol moved closer hoping to gain better access and pictures. Some spectators were disappointed that several of the top riders did not stop for a chat and give autographs. Few riders had smiles signifying a hard ride, now all they were looking for was the bivouac, their mechanics, food and a warm shower.

015 Parked before the crowds arrived.jpg
Parked before the crowds arrived

016  How big is that dune.jpg
How big is that dune

017 Marc Coma.jpg
Marc Coma

018 Cyril Despres.jpg
Cyril Despres

019  Fretigne 12 and Ullevalseter 4.jpg
Fretigne 12 and Ullevalster 4

020 Contardo Lopez.jpg
Francisco Lopez

021 Alain Duclos 14 and Olivier Pain 16.jpg
Alain Duclos 14 and Olivier Pain 16

022 Robby Gordon in the Hummer.jpg
Robbie Gordon in the Hummer

Parked nearby were a few motorcycles with Chilean plates and one we recognized as a bike which was loaned to us by our good friend Mario from Santiago Chile when we were there doing some bike repairs. By late afternoon after meeting and talking to several competitors including Christina Meier #100 and Christophe Barriere-Varju #121 we met up with the riders of the bikes parked nearby. Rueben from Johnny’s Motos was the mechanic who sorted two of our biggest barrel stud thread issues. It was good to meet up with him and his mates again and express our thanks for the work done on our old bike. Unfortunately Mario who had been our first ‘helper’ and good friend for our time in South America was not there and his BMW R1150GS we had recognized earlier had been sold.

023 Rueben our Chilean mechanic with friends.jpg
Ruben (middle) our Chilean mechanic with friends

024 Hot and dusty photographer.jpg
Hot and dusty photographer

025 Christophe  Barrierre-Varju.jpg
Christophe Barriere-Varju

026 Rueben rides away.jpg
Rueben rides away

027 Christina Meier.jpg
Christina Meier

028 Silvia Giannetti 93 and Frabrizio Mugnaioli 94.jpg
Silvia Giannetti 93 and Frabrizio Mugnaioli 94

029  Kamaz of Viatcheslav Mizyukaev and Andrey Karginov.jpg
Kamaz of Viatcheslav Mizyukaev and Andrey Karginov

As the day drew to a close we walked the perimeter of the bivouac and met up with Rob Pollard’s team who were parked close to the three metre boundary fence. We offered our assistance should they need anything and Rob volunteered a bag of ice would be nice for his injured elbow. Then an odd request from the guys in the support vehicle…. A dust pan and brush….!!! The vehicle was full of dirt and dust and also the tents were picking up volumes of the talc like substance. No problems as we rode off into Copiapo (approx 20 kms) causing more dust to swirl through the hundreds of competitors tents. However our disturbance was a meager show compared to the storms created by the trucks passing and entering the camp. Returning just on dark we rolled up to the bivouac hoping we could ride in but alas the ever efficient French officials recognized the R80 G/S Paris Dakar was a bike from a by-gone era and would not let us enter. Our packages were delivered to their camp site over the fence much to the gratitude of the team. After a rest day in Antofagasta the race was just past the half way point. The Australian back-up team driving the Toyota relayed to us on how tough it was maintaining the pace day after day and this was just the support drive. We confirmed with them and said our days also included the riding plus finding accommodation with secure motorcycle parking, food and fuel and the where-a-bouts of the actual race camps and start/finish lines. Being a spectator is tough enough let alone racing!!!

030 Marc Coma.jpg
Marc Coma

031 Australian camp at the compound outside Copiapo.jpg
Australian camp at the bivouac outside Copiapo

032 Some bikes get special treatment.jpg
Some bikes get special treatment

Racing started the next day close to the bivouac with the remaining bikes charging from the start line in groups of 20. A spectacular sight but the dust was horrendous when combined with lift off of the safety and media helicopters. As the last of bikes and quads disappeared over the dunes into the distance we raced back to the R80G/S to commence our ride south to La Serena on a far better surface than the competitors.

033 Gathering for the start Copiapo to La Serena.jpg
Gathering for the start, Copiapo to La Serena

034 First wave of 20 riders roar away.jpg
First wave of 20 riders roar away

035 Chased by helicopters over a large dune.jpg
Chased by helicopters over a large dune

036 Serious Dakar support vehicle.jpg
Serious Dakar support vehicle

037 Waiting for a start.jpg
Waiting for the start

038  Rob Pollard 122 3rd from left takes the grid.jpg
Rob Pollard 122, 3rd from the left takes the grid

039 and they roar away in a cloud of dust.jpg
And they roar away in a cloud of dust

040 The man with the board has no fear.jpg
The man with the board has no fear

041 Hope he has GPS.jpg
Hope he has a GPS

042  Christophe Barriere Varju 122 far right.jpg
Christophe Barriere-Varju 121 far right

043 Quad power.jpg
Quad power

044 Pulverized sand equals fesh fesh around Bivouac.jpg
Pulverized sand equals fesh fesh around the Bivouac

045 Bivouac is almost empty by 10 00 am.jpg
Bivouac is almost empty by 10am

It was a perfect day for a ride and the traffic moved rapidly as retired competitors and support vehicles moved past us at a more serious pace. Our journey was interrupted twice however as leaking fuel from the carburetors caused major concern. Adjusting the float levels cured the problem to some degree but discussion along the road (with Carol) led to the belief that our floats had been affected by the alcohol fuel in Brazil and no longer 'floated'. Adjusting the float level had the needle and seat closing very early and any hard acceleration caused the fuel bowl to empty and the flow could not keep up with the burn rate. Not good when trying to follow a Dakar Rally at a fast pace. We struck a happy medium and were able to keep pace with most vehicles though.

Crowd and vehicle chaos entering La Serena was unbelievable. The road leading down to the bivouac was closed to all traffic except competing or backup vehicles so we parked at a fuel station and walked towards the camp meeting up with Ian from Bruce Garland and Harry Suzuki’s Isuzu support team. Some sad news as the team had retired due to engine overheating issues and although they had another engine too many ‘way-points’ had been missed to compete any further. They were however continuing to follow the race on the support route and would be at the finish in Buenos Aires.

046  A serious fesh fesh maker.jpg
A serious fesh fesh maker

047 Australian support vehicle.jpg
Australian support vehicle

048 Crowds entering La Serena.jpg
Crowds entering La Serena

049 Bivouac entry La Serena.jpg
Bivouac entry La Serena

From La Serena the rally continued south to Santiago however we decided to make a detour East to the border of Argentina. At Uspallata, Argentina the race would start again on 13th January after passing over el Paso Internacional los Libertadores early that morning. Doing this we would avoid the border traffic jam of competitors and race enthusiasts. The ride towards Santiago was fun meeting many riders and support vehicles but most blew past us due to our restricted speed. We were really surprised to be overtaken by Bruce Garland’s retired Isuzu on the highway however we did catch up when he stopped for a break. He mentioned the engine still worked OK but was prone to overheating so they kept an eye on the temp gauge and throttled back if it got too high.

050 Robbie Gordons backup vehicle.jpg
Robbie Gordon’s back up vehicle

051 Thumbs up from Bruce Garland X over 320 means they are out.jpg
Thumbs up from Bruce Garland, X over #320 means they are out

052 He was still moving quickly.jpg
He was still moving quickly

052A  His support truck not far behind.jpg
His support truck not far behind

053 Henk Knuiman.jpg
Henk Knuiman

054  Too fast for us.jpg
Too fast for us

055 A tow job.jpg
A tow job

The weather was sunny but cool and we were pushing a very brisk head wind. Stopping for lunch at a Copec garage we noted several rally bikes and cars both competitive and support but a lone R1200GSA with UK plates indicated we were not the only chasers. We shared lunch and road tales with the Brits but they were heading to Santiago to collect new tyres and the chance meeting with the Dakar Rally was a huge bonus to their journey in South America. We met up with Pedro Bianchi Prata #29 from Portugal riding one of the few 450 BMW’s. It was interesting to see the change in Dakar bikes. You couldn’t even see the fuel tanks on the 450 and this is all you see on the 800G/S!!! The turn off to Santiago had the most traffic as we veered towards the pass but our progress was slowed by trucks and eventually stopped by road works. We joined the Chilean motorcycles at the front of the queue who indicated that there were more road issues up ahead. Suffice to say it took us almost two hours to get to the border plus another two hours to get processed. At 8.30 pm we departed customs for the downhill ride to Uspallata. This would be the last time we would do ‘el Paso Internacional los Libertadores’ or sometimes called ‘Cristo Redentor’. This fantastic road was our first Andean pass ridden back in October 2007 and we still enjoyed the ride after so many visits in all kinds of weather. Our late arrival into Uspallata also shocked us. Obviously we were not the only ones arriving early to see the start of the race and we were lucky to find accommodation. This would have been the busiest we have ever seen this small town. Restaurants were overflowing and people were walking the streets long past midnight. We did not finish dinner until then!!!

056 Alessandro Zanotti.jpg
Alessandro Zanotti

057 Pedro  Bianchi Prata on the 450 BMW.jpg
Pedro Bianchi Prata on the 450 BMW

058 Two BMW riders a little different though.jpg
Two BMW riders, a little different though

059 Starting with the fuel tanks.jpg
Starting with the fuel tanks

060  We are a little bigger.jpg
We are a little bigger

061 The British and there even bigger BMW.jpg
The British and their even bigger BMW

062 Jaime Prohens and his Honda 450 at drink stop.jpg
Jaime Prohens and his Honda 450 at a drink stop

062 Jaime Prohens was very popular.jpg
Being a Chilean, Jaime Prohens was very popular with the crowd

Wednesday 13th January. An early breakfast before an early start along with most of the Hotel guests and we departed the normally quiet streets in the soft morning light. It was cool but there were already hundreds of vehicles and people gathering. Tourist coaches were being directed to larger parking areas as the passengers scrambled across the stony terrain to the roped starting line. The indicated start time came and went and we knew this would be a long day for the competitors. When the first riders arrived some were sporting plastic garbage bin liners as wind proof jackets…. The pass must have been cold in the early hours. There appeared to be an over-abundance of Police and most did not know what was going on so they just stood there and took in the spectacle. The entrance to the track was very obscure and several riders rode past or stopped to ask ‘WHERE’. Amusing to see so many Police but none would take the initiative and direct the competitors. Finally an officer came along organized a few barriers and police to wave and indicate the route. A sign saying ‘DAKAR COMPETITORS ONLY’ would have saved a lot of drama. Mind you they were very quick to herd us back behind the barriers if you moved too close to the track entrance. The individual start was not as spectacular as the 20 bike starting grid at Copiapo but we watched 90% of the bikes accelerate along the stony trail in the early morning mist. They had four days to go!!!

063 Early morning start at Uspallata.jpg
Early morning start at Uspallata

064 Police waiting for instructions.jpg
Police waiting for instructions

065 Riders making their way to start line.jpg
Riders making their way to the start line

066 Michael Pisano on the Sherco 450.jpg
Michael Pisano on the Sherco 450

067 Ruben Faria on a KTM.jpg
Ruben Faria on a KTM

068 Cyril Despres KTM.jpg
Cyril Despres KTM

069 Christophe Barriere Varju KTM and Alessandro Zanotti on an Aprillia.jpg
Christophe Barriere-Varju KTM and Alessandro Zanotti Aprilia

070 Wenmin SU on a Jincheng.jpg
Wenmin SU on a Jincheng

071 The distant start line.jpg
The distant start line

Once again our route varied to the race and instead of heading to San Juan we opted for San Rafael where we would pick up the race the following day. We would stay at our good friends John and Annette on their farm about 20 kms out of town. They hosted several Dakar enthusiasts in 2009 and it appeared as though there would be more again this year. Before heading out though we purchased two new tyres in San Rafael and planned to fit them before we headed into the final two days of the race. Brian and Marie (CAN), Bjorn (GER), Danielle (AUS), and Javier (ARG) from Dakar Motos were there and Annette cooked up a fine curry for dinner.

Thursday 14th January and our plan was to ride approximately 100 kms towards Mendoza to meet the riders on the transport section to San Rafael. Hopefully we would pick up with at least one of the Australia riders and escort him into the bivouac. Bjorn and Danielle joined us and we snapped away as the riders sped past. Another traveler, Jerome (CAN) joined us on his R100GSPD. Around 38 bikes had passed when I decided to start riding back to San Rafael. By my calculation Rob Pollard #122 was about due to arrive…… I don’t think I had clicked into 2nd gear when he roared past. All efforts to catch him failed so all we could do was keep him in sight some 4-5 kms ahead. In our rear-view mirror I could see Jerome crouched behind his small screen trying to keep up with us. Lucky the road and countryside were flat. Some time later Rob slowed down, do not know why but we were able to catch up. He looked none the worse for the past couple of days riding and the elbow did not appear to hinder him at all. Carol took several photos and a video as we entered town through the crowds of well wishers. One thing is for sure, support for this race is huge in South America and will probably get even stronger should it return next year. Reaching the entrance to the bivouac Rob peeled off and we parked with several other bikes including Tony (GER) on the KTM 990 sidecar and his girlfriend Ina (GER) F650 Dakar. Another rider Noel (URU) joined us so we were heading for an interesting night on the farm.

072 Contardo Lopez on an Aprillia.jpg
Francisco Lopez Aprilia

073 Bjorn snapping at Cyril Despres.jpg
Bjorn snapping at Cyril Despres

074 Guiding in the Australians.jpg
Guiding in the Australian

075 Jerome Bjorn and Danielle following us into San Rafael.jpg
Jerome, Bjorn and Danielle following us into San Rafael

076 We finally caught up with Rob Pollard.jpg
We finally caught up with Rob Pollard

077 His elbow was still working.jpg
His elbow was still working

078 Special Police badge for Dakar.jpg
Special Police badge for the Dakar

079 Carlos Sainz in the VW and eventual winner.jpg
Carlos Sainz in the VW and eventual winner

080  Ludovic Boinnard on KTM.jpg
Ludovic Boinnard on a KTM

081 Annie Seel makes it to San Rafael.jpg
Annie Seel KTM makes it to San Rafael

082 Robbie Gordon always popular.jpg
Robbie Gordon always popular

083 BARBOSA Miguel Barbosa and Miguel Ramalho in their Mitsubishil.jpg
Miguel Barbosa and Miguel Ramalho in their Mitsubishi

Next stop was the bivouac and we followed the throngs of people, cars and bikes to the fenced campsite. No sign of the Australian team so we chatted to the Desert Rose Team who were camped near the fence. They must have been surprised to hear UK and Australian accents on the Dakar trail. Paul Carlyle #141, Tamsin Jones #131 joined us at the fence for a brief chat and I queried Patsy Quick on whether she was considering a comeback. Her reply…. 'Never say never!!!!!!' As the sun settled we ventured back to the farm to enjoy a very social evening with a team of international motorcyclists. But before we started the evening there was a matter of two tyre changes on the bike. Never fear there was plenty of help at hand with Javier and John pushing me aside to move the process along a little quicker. A problem arose when the tube currently in use had ‘grown’ beyond safe use as it would crease in the smaller tyre carcass. We replaced the tube with the new one we had purchased in Manaus, Brazil some months earlier. This was to cause us some grief in the next few days.

084 Javier from Dakar Motos signing autographs.jpg
Javier from Dakar Motos signing autographs

085 Desert Rose Racings camp in San Rafael with Phil Noones KTM.jpg
Desert Rose Racing camp in San Rafael with Phil Noone's KTM

086 Tamsin Jones Yamaha 450.jpg
Tamsin Jones Yamaha 450

087 Paul Carlyle on KTM.jpg
Paul Carlyle KTM

088 John and Javier take over the tyre change.jpg
John and Javier take over the tyre change

Friday 15th January we gathered around the farm trailer for the Dakar chasers photo, eventually saying our goodbyes and leaving for Santa Rosa around 11.30 am. It was a hot day and we stopped for lunch and a cold drink at Santa Isabella. Last year this little town on the Dakar route ran out of gasoline causing problems to Dakar teams and chasers but all was good this year. We met up with Frank (PNG) on his 650 Dakar who had decided to call it quits and stay in Santa Isabella due to the heat. He did not share our passion for the Dakar as we pressed on into the hot Argentinian pampas. Stopping again for a cool drink a South African couple on a R1200GSA and F800GS also joined us. We had seen these guys as they flew past us in both Chile and Argentina. There were several KTMs with them then but today they were alone. We had passed the KTM’s stopped at a café along the road we had just traveled. We mentioned to them the road the rally would take to enter Santa Rosa before we headed off. They passed us not 20 minutes later at a blistering pace. About 50 kms out of Santa Rosa we caught up to Phil Noone #104 from Ireland who was traveling very slowly compared to most Dakar riders. Passing these guys does not happen too often. We pitched our tent at the same grounds camped at the year before (they remembered us) but that time it was the first night of the big race, this time would be the last night. Venturing into town we posed for photographs with Dakar fans and enjoy the good fun and hospitality of the locals. Restaurants were busy to say the least but Pizza took our fancy. The VW support crew were also eating at our favoured restaurant and during a conversation with a local fan (in English) we overheard one of the crew say ‘most competitors’ preferred the South American venue to the African one and they hoped it would return to South America next year.

089 Dakar group at John and Annettes farm.jpg
Dakar group at John and Annette’s farm

090 Phil Noone on KTM.jpg
Phil Noone KTM

The 16th of January, the last day of the race. The small town of Bolivar had the unique privilege of being the finish line. We packed up early and joined the riders on the highway to the start of the last competitive section. Close to the start line bikes were topping up with gasoline which gave us a good chance to meet some of the competitors. Somehow the Paris Dakar emblem on our tank allowed us access to places where other vehicles where waved away. Aussies Rob Pollard #122 and Christophe Barriere-Varju #121 topped up and looked very focused. Not far to go now. Pedro Bianchi Prata #29 from Portugal on the BMW 450 met in Chile experienced some mechanical problems at the garage but Tamsin Jones #131(GBR) was all smiles and looking really confident on her first Dakar. Phil Noone #104 from Team Ireland was also looking happy. The Patronelli brothers (ARG) on their Yamaha Quads were popular with the locals and Marcos #251 looked like the next Dakar winner if he could maintain his advantage. We wished everyone a safe ride and headed to Bolivar meeting up with Rob Pollard’s back up vehicle along the road. He still had plenty of tyres left…

091 Rob Pollard last fuel for the last stage.jpg
Rob Pollard, last fuel for the final stage

092 Pedro Bianchi Prata BMW 450.jpg
Pedro Bianchi Prata BMW 450

093 They meet again.jpg
Stopping for a chat before the start

094 Phil Noone is confident.jpg
Phil Noone was confident

095 Tamsin Jones is really confident.jpg
Tamsin Jones was really confident

096 Christoffe Barriere Varju is waiting till he crosses the line.jpg
Christophe Barriere-Varju was waiting till he crosses the line

097 Alain Delaunays Honda looks well used.jpg
Alain Delaunay’s Honda looked well used

098 The support  team for Rob Pollard passed us on the way to the finish line.jpg
The support team for Rob Pollard passed us on the way to the finish line

A lot of competitors had already arrived as we joined the thousands of people at the old gates to the centre of town. This area was cordoned off but gradually riders filtered out. We stopped several by calling out their names much to the delight of the local crowd. Digital cameras and cell phones got a serious workout. Paul Carlyle #141 almost lost his balance when an enthusiastic Argentinian girl jumped aboard to get a photo taken. Annie Seel was beaming after her great win in the ladies class. No where near as beaten up as she was last year. We missed Rob Pollard #122 as he went by looking for Alana and his back up vehicle but we caught up with plenty of other ecstatic riders.

099 Exiting the finish lineDavid Fretigne Yamaha 450.jpg
Exiting the finish line, David Fretigne Yamaha 450

100  Juan Pedrero Garcia on KTM was 10th.jpg
Juan Pedrero Garcia KTM was 10th

101 Contardo Lopez on Aprillia 450 was 3rd.jpg
Francisco Lopez Aprilia 450 was 3rd this year

102 Tamsin Jones Yamaha 450 1st Dakar and a finish.jpg
Tamsin Jones Yamaha 450 finished her 1st Dakar

103 Paul Carlyle was all smiles and he picked up a passenger.jpg
Paul Carlyle was all smiles and he picked up a passenger

104 Phil Noone a big smile and a KTM with some serious patchwork.jpg
Phil Noone, a big smile and a KTM with some serious patchwork

105 Cyril Despres the winner.jpg
Cyril Despres the winner in 2010

106 The ever smiling Annie Seel winner of the ladies ride.jpg
The ever smiling Annie Seel KTM winner of the ladies class

107 Christoffe Barriere Varju  mobbed when we stopped him.jpg
Christophe Barriere-Varju KTM got mobbed when we stopped him

108 Kemal Merkit from Turkey won the unsupported class on KTM.jpg
Kemal Merkit KTM from Turkey won the unsupported class

109 If they slowed down they were stopped.jpg
If they slowed they were mobbed

Topping up with petrol and a sandwich we headed back to Buenos Aries, another Dakar was all but done. We had ample time so our pace was much slower which was probably just as well. Less than an hour out of Bolivar we had another flat tyre… this time it was the rear. When we say flat I really meant a blow out. We were on the rim in a second with the bike slewing from side to side completely out of control. Fortunately we had almost come to a stop when we hit the deck hard on the left side of the bike this time but on the wrong side of the road. We scrambled to get the bike upright with cars flashing by so close we could see the whites of their eyes. No one stopped, we pushed the bike to the edge of the road but struggled to keep the bike upright and steady due to the slope of the edges. Nothing left to do but replace the tube but the tube we were carrying was the one that was creased and rejected back in San Rafael. No matter how we tried we could not get the tube inflated without creases. Creases split under pressure so the tube was quite dangerous. The Brazilian tube fitted in San Rafael was split some 10 inches (25cm) on the inside and was beyond repair. Fortunately we were not injured this time, the bike faired a little worse but was still rideable. It took us some hours to get the tyre inflated as I kept trying to inflate the tube without the creases but eventually gave up resolving to ride very slowly incase the tube blew. Few people stopped to help however our thanks to the two young guys on small motorbikes and the guy on the 650 Dakar for offering assistance. They did not carry any type of tube. We rode into the dark and decided to stop when I was getting too tired to concentrate. The sign…I could not hold a steady speed.

110 Park Ferme.jpg
Parc Ferme

111 The second Bowler to finish.jpg
The second Bowler to finish

We made it back to Dakar Motos the following day and caught the bus into the city hoping our luck would change and we could get into to see the podium finish. Sadly the chaos around Park Ferme was a shocker. Access was worse than the year before due to incomplete reconstruction. People were climbing over concrete barriers and through rough terrain as security guards opened and closed temporary fences and tapes. It was very hot and we could sense the anger and disappointment of the fans as we jostled through the crowds. If the Dakar returns to South America we certainly hope this debacle is not repeated. We feel there are far better venues available in Buenos Aries to show off this spectacle. The podium presentations should be enjoyed by more fans than is currently permitted but maybe when the reconstruction is complete things could improve. Fortunately in 2009 we were given access to the podium but when you see the thousands that cannot even get close to the show you realize the inadequacies of the site. Perhaps a better site and more revenue could be gained as I am sure people would pay to access this great event.

112 Carol with Annie Seels bike at Park Ferme.jpg
Carol with Annie Seel’s bike at Parc Ferme

113 Pablo Busin and Gabriel Juan Bottazzini both from Argentina on Honda 450s.jpg
The Honda 450's of Pablo Busin and Gabriel Juan Bottazzina both from Argentina

114 Philippe Peillon on KTM from Gabon came 53rd.jpg
Philippe Peillon’s KTM from Gabon came 53rd

115 Camelia Liparoti  on KTM Quad came 13th.jpg
Camelia Liparoti KTM Quad came 13th

116 Park Ferme a construction site.jpg
Parc Ferme a construction site

117 Christina Meier on  Yamaha 450.jpg
Christina Meier’s Yamaha 450

118 The Kabirov Kamaz came second this year.jpg
The Kabirov Kamaz came second this year

119 Jostling crowds on Podium Day.jpg
Jostling crowds on Podium Day

120 Police and a no go area.jpg
Police and a no go area

121 The Podium.jpg
The Podium

122 The Podium.jpg
The Podium

123 Carols souvenier signed shirt.jpg
Carol’s souvenir signed shirt

The Dakar is over and we are back to reality…. A stunned silence….Now we need to repair the bike ready for our ride north. This preparation will take us out of South America as we have made a rendezvous date with Carol’s sister and her husband in the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico later in the year. Many laughs in the hostel as we tell everyone our planned ETA….they doubt we will make it. Work began in earnest on the bike with parts landing from Australia and the UK. Danielle returns to Australia with a package to replace the one she landed with and that was for us also. Guests were coming and going at the hostel. Frank (PNG) on his Dakar 650, Steve (USA) looking to purchase a bike to ride South America, Annette (CAN) looking to sell a bike before returning to the UK, Richard (AUS) arrives looking to sell his bike, Bjorn (GER) looking for some repairs before heading north. It is always busy and very social, a couple of Birthdays were celebrated with asados including mine. The private backyard one cooked by Javier for Sandra was far better than the restaurant one we shared for mine… Meanwhile the repairs continue…….

124 More damage.jpg
More damage

125 plus a little more.jpg
Plus a little more

126 The culprit.jpg
The culprit

127 Birthday time.jpg
Brithday time

128 Frank  from PNG A famous world traveller.jpg
Frank from PNG, a famous world traveler

Posted by Ken Duval at 10:46 PM GMT

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