Stage 03: Straight out of Africa…

As predicted, Stage 3 of the 2013 Dakar was a real roller-coaster ride for the riders. 171 bikes and 35 quads rolled into a decisive special where all faced the dilemma of whether to follow their own navigation or trust that of their competitors. From afar the landscape was breathtaking, but the 4km transport delivered the field straight into a sea of rolling sand dunes waiting to swamp the unwary. The roadbook only hinted at the true difficulty of the topography and once more the field has been whittled down by hidden hazards. However with all three taking care today, GHR riders #156 Todd Smith, #131 Warren Strange and #89 Brett Cummings all improved their overall standings in the moto division.

Comments from Todd Smith:
“I had a good day today and took it really easy. I’m getting much more confident, and have got to know the navigation better. I picked a few guys off but made a few minor navigational errors and had a little lie down in the fesh fesh. I’m getting the hang of the dunes – the other guys are so fast through the dunes, but I catch them on the flats. I got 19th for the stage and have moved up to 24th outright. All going really well.”

Warren Strange had a steady run without trouble. Fluctuating between 29th and 36th fastest on the special he closed in 32nd place for the stage and 33rd overall. South African Brett Cummings lifted his 79th overall by 4 spots to secure 75th outright. He was 76th on the stage.

In spite of some mechanical damage and navigation issues, GHR quad rider #274 Paul Smith only slipped back one place overall to hold 19th overall in his division. Starting well, the navigation errors had cost him 40 minutes by WP3. “I should have trusted my gut” were his words at day’s end. Instead he was lead astray by others before sustaining front suspension damage on rocks at the base of a steep 600m descent. Importantly he remained uninjured, and despite later fuel transfer issues he nursed his TRX700XX to the end of the day, 21st on stage.

GHR times and placings: MOTO
24th #156 – SMITH Todd 6h38m17s (+00:23:14 behind leader)
33rd #131 – STRANGE Warren 6h48m38s (+00:33:35 behind leader)
75th #089 – CUMMINGS Brett 7h48m22s (+01:33:19 behind leader)

GHR times and placings: QUAD
19 #274 – SMITH Paul 8h47m54s (+01:52:14 behind leader)

Stage 4: Nazca > Arequipa continues to flank the Pacific in a south-easterly direction, but will be the first really arduous day for the 2013 edition of Dakar. The GHR crew face another pre-dawn reveille for the special and the first bike will leave bivouac at 05.45hrs. Three massive ascents waiting in Stage 4 will dwarf those encountered in previous stages, as will the severe drops beyond each one. The first, a 1,600m dune, will give way to mountainous rocky tracks topping out above 2,200m only to thrust downwards once more to the refuel at CP1. Beyond the 250km mark the final brutal climb up 1,000m of sand may prove to be especially difficult for anyone who has sustained damage or logged fatigue earlier in the day. The stage then drops from dizzy heights immediately before the finish. All will have traveled over 700km before respite and repairs come at the Arequipa bivouac.