The crowd opens up to reveal the road.

In Glenn’s words this afternoon, “another crazy day”.

Mark Davidson had a decent crash today and did a small amount of damage to his bike, mainly with the navigation gear and handle bars. He seems OK and continued, but he did lose a large number of places to finish in 139th place and 01:15:58 behind the leaders.

Warren Strange did well and improved his placing considerably – 40th for the day, trailing by 00:23.59

Jacob Smith ran off the road in the dust at one point. The special was extremely dusty in places but he recovered and continued to gain places on yesterday’s finish – 20th for the day, 00:14:26 off the pace. The fact that he started 31st on the grid made his passage through the dust far worse with the intervals for the riders’ departures in that part of the grid were in 30 second brackets rather than full minute or two minute blocks. Everyone was bunched up heavily. Yesterday Jacob carved through the field, passing around 30 riders because they were very much slower than him. The 20 riders now in front of him are essentially all national champions and/or seasoned Dakar riders, so his advance will be slower from this point on. If everything goes to plan he should be able to pick one or two off per day but these are first two days have really just been the warm up and “sorting” stages of the race. Tomorrow has the first of the endurance specials. His frame of mind is very good at the moment. Although frustrated at losing another 14 minutes today, Jacob knows that we’re here to learn this year so he’s just taking it all in. He was always going to be held up by people because of grid position yesterday. He remains strong and fit, so is ready for the hard stages when anything can happen.

There have been a couple of little issues with the bikes now that the “race development” has been done with the new parts on board. The primary problem has been that the rear tanks soften with the fuel, the weight of the fuel and the heat, resulting in insufficient clearance between them and the tyre. A fix has been concocted to keep everything sorted in the short term.

Adjustments to the navigation gear on Jacob's bike.

The service guys are coping, but working very hard and coming up with solutions to debug the new parts on top of the normal service workload. They are spending time in the truck sleeping when they can. Many people in the bivouacs have been interested in the bikes because we have simplified many of the things normally hidden behind the fairings. Reportedly there is one other bike with a similar set up, but all the rest have big fairings. Mark’s crash damage would have been a far more complicated affair had their been a fairing and tower involved. There is more to fit on the bike than people realise, but going upwards doesn’t have to be the only answer. Some of the components that had not been developed by GHR have been particularly disappointing because of failures and breakages even without crashes – it’s all good research for doing thing better internally next time.

Max Sullivan's ingenious sleep aid to stop the noddies.

Simon just chooses the noddies.

Camp Hummer - Robbie Gordon's palatial service trucks and facilities were amazing, but cold comfort at the end of what had been a bad day.

More Hummers... He might be hiding a brass band in there somewhere too.

This is how a little team from Australia does it in comparison.

The crowd is something to behold and the atmosphere electric. All the crew have been stunned by the sheer quantity of human beings over here who appear to have dropped everything to watch the race. There were many kilometres of first gear running in the truck today, where the crowd parted to reveal the road ahead – almost offering their children and babies as they paid homage to anyone with anything to do with the race. What was really amazing was the fact that this these were just the service vehicles, not race vehicles. The fans don’t seem to care though. One thing that is startling is that in the space of 3km you pass an MCG sized crowd, then another and another. The Dakar and its fans completely dwarf any sporting event of any kind or code in Australia. The crew would have passed a million people already. At the time Glenn called it was 10.30 his time but there were still hordes of people outside the compound looking in. He said he felt like a monkey behind the fence being studied by 10,000 people.

Crowds like this go for miles...

At times, it was 1st gear going only, through masses of elated spectators.

Mark Davidson making friends on the outside of the bivouac perimeter.

Another truck flying the Honda flag, passed in the service convoy.

The go-anywhere trucks of the organisers.

Much of the landscape here could easily be parts of the Australian outback.

A heavy band of rain passes by the truck.

View inside the bivouac compound.

Stage briefing.

Tomorrow will be a big day with 231km of liaison and 521km of special stage en route to San Salvador. I’ll ask him what it’s like being watched by 10,000 people as he slept!