Stage 07: Doing it tough all on their own.

The route to Salta provided no real technical riding challenge but it certainly wasn’t an easy day. The 218km special was a fast-paced dash along the mountain roads and tracks. Perhaps the most significant aspect of the day was the “marathon” status of the stage, meaning there was no service or contact with support crew. Extreme altitude deprived lungs and engines of oxygen for much of the day, upsetting progress for many as altitude sickness and asthmatic fueling took their toll. Combined with the frosty temperature and poor weather during the 585km liaison legs, it made for a formidable day with no creature comforts in sight at the end. The bivouac sleeping quarters consisted of a space on the floor of a gymnasium.

There’s been no direct contact between the riders and the service crew since they are in different bivouacs in accordance with the marathon day rules, but Glenn Hoffmann has called in from one of the service cars. The Audi support car has been struggling in the conditions so most of the uphill transport was driven in limp mode at 20kph with the hazard lights on and warning lamps blinking. The truck made it over the top in 12 hours. The crew have a evening of relative quiet before moving again tomorrow to the bivouac San Miguel de Tucumán that will serve as home for two nights and designated rest day between them.

GHR times and placings: MOTO
35th #131 – STRANGE Warren 19h43m53s (56th for stage, +02:15:36 behind leader)
46th #156 – SMITH Todd 21h22m00s (38th for stage, +03:53:43 behind leader, +00:15:00 penalty)
68th #089 – CUMMINGS Brett 23h07m00s (37th for stage, +05:38:43 behind leader)

GHR times and placings: QUAD
13th #274 – SMITH Paul 24h08m42s (9th for stage, +04:00:09 behind leader)

Sadly there was a fatal traffic accident on the non-competitive liaison leg en route from Calama to the start of the Stage 7 special at 08:23 local time. 25 year old French #106 rider Thomas Bourgin was killed when his motorcycle collided with a Chilean police car. It was his first his first Dakar Rally and the exact circumstances of the accident are still under investigation. GHR Honda’s thoughts go out to Thomas’ loved ones and team mates.

Stage 08: Salta > Tucuman: We understand that due to a sudden deluge of rain there will be last minute alterations to the first section of the route. The terrain is unknown due to the imminent route change, but the bikes and quads were scheduled to cover more than 700km for the day at moderate altitudes. The original special was to cover 492km of highly variable ground including a 111km neutralised road section. In completing the only marathon leg for the 2013 rally, riders will need to balance the urge to push for positions against the risk of breaking their machines.