“Absolute madness…”

These were the first words of the very weary Glenn when called me at 1.30am his time having just battled through a 14 hour drive across the mountains. This was no leisurely cruise. The competitors and support crews all crossed the Andes for the second time today.

Most of the day consisted of tiny dirt and bitumen tracks, many of which had considerable drop offs and either negligible or no fencing. The truck loses the clutch above 3,000m and there were 140km of transport above 4,000m where just breathing becomes difficult. At times the progress was limited to 1st and 2nd gear because this was the most the truck would pull. Large sections of the dirt looked like a competitive stage rather than a convoy route with talc-like dust to knee height and ruts deep enough to trap the trucks. Some of the competitors vehicles were getting stuck in the transport, so you can imagine what it was like for the service vehicles in regular road going vehicles!

The pictures tell the story. There were cars and trucks stuck everywhere and one strayed into a ditch, ending up on its side. At the time Glenn called there were still some competitors yet to arrive.

On the way up...

A Dakar with snow? This is serious altitude!

Just remember this is a transport stage...

Still time to do some sight seeing. Well actually, any excuse to get out of the truck is valid on a 14 hour trip.

Bitumen and lines. Welcome, safe monotony.

And this is why. Remember, this is a transport stage!

It ended badly for this support crew.

Carnage!

Glenn has a heap of video we should be able to get up on the site once he's back.

Remember, this is not a special stage!

Starting to get dark now... Sleeping in a rolled camper next to this? No thanks!

Jacob Smith finished 19th for the day but he did have a major crash. He has damaged his shoulder and rearranged the navigation equipment, but he’ll be starting on a straightened machine tomorrow. At present the penalty accrued on Day 9 still stands. While the team are still campaigning for its reduction they are fairly sure there will still be something imposed. He stands in 39th place, but were the penalty be completely revoked he would return to 26th place overall.

Tomorrow is a massive day for the riders as they undertake a 164km liaison before the 622km special to San-Juan. The special will include one relentless ascent to over 3,000m before dropping more than 2,000m in less than 100km of racing. If today didn’t really test the field, tomorrow will. Jake will get to start in a reasonable position. Now we wait to see who emerges at the end…