Stage 08: The best laid plans…

After the lofty, exhausting Stage 7 and lonely “marathon” bivouac, it’s understandable that the riders were already thinking about being reunited with their crews. But nobody was quite prepared for the chaos that was Stage 8 before they were. Torrential rain forced the hands of race control and they enacted a last minute route revision. The network of dry river beds that were to play a part in the passage to San Miguel de Tucamán were now rolling rivers. The revision discarded the first section of the special, but navigation in the now shortened stage still caught a large portion of the field including the lead group. GHR riders #156 Todd Smith, #131 Warren Strange and #89 Brett Cummings all lost time when they strayed from the correct path. Cummings recovered well to finish the stage 16th and Strange arrived in 51st place, but it was Todd Smith who suffered the greatest setback with a heavy crash on top of the navigation issue. Having elevated himself to 8th fastest on stage, his push up the order was foiled and he had to settle with 74th. In contrast #274 Paul Smith banked another solid run and closed in 13th place.

Comments from Todd Smith:
“Had another tough day at Dakar. The first part of the stage was cancelled from all the rain we had the night before, so we had to ride it as a liaison. The second part of the stage started off on nice fast roads and off piste sand flats until half way, then we had to ride up a flowing creek. I was doing well but I got lost with a heap of riders lost a lot of time there. It’s the rest day so I’m going to recharge the battery and see if I can do a bit better in the last 6 stages.”

GHR times and overall placings: MOTO
33th #131 – STRANGE Warren (AUS) 22h18m12s (+02:21:39 behind leader)
49th #156 – SMITH Todd (AUS) 24h06m06s (+04:09:33 behind leader incl +00:15:00 penalty)
65th #089 – CUMMINGS Brett (ZAF) 25h31m48s (+05:35:15 behind leader)

GHR times and overall placings: QUAD
13th #274 – SMITH Paul (AUS) 27h04m42s (+04:26:07 behind leader)

Tomorrow is the precious rest and recuperation day for the riders. With no racing they’ll take the rare opportunity to sleep in and spend the day out of the saddle. Meanwhile, the service crew will work on the bikes and quad in preparation for the second part of Dakar 2013. It’s from this point on that engine changes, penalties and injuries will start to mix up the order, and as Stages 7 and 8 demonstrated it only takes a little upset to dramatically change the shape of the rally.