Continuous rotations, old school strategy. Branch opens, but isn’t convinced. Van Beveren hooks him up and tries, but the result builds on him. Luciano Benavides, Sanders and Price at the finish, Skyler Howes back in command
January 12, 2023
Empty Quarter MarathonJanuary 12. “The most difficult stage!” Sara? For the less skilled or less prepared, of course, but for those who have been up front, battling for the Dakar record for years, there are no truly difficult tests, and this one was not at all. Maybe complicated stages, maybe more or less guessed, but it always comes out, and well! For the first graders of the eleventh grade it’s almost routine, great competitive routine and show. I 274 kilometers of the Special Tuttadune smoked in less than 3 hours, high averages, over 90 KM/H. Evidently the conditions aren’t that extreme, perhaps they will be for those who pass later in the day. Lorenzo Maestrami is not at the start, who had a bad accident flying down a dune just at the beginning of the shortest special of the Rally, Double fracture, arm and kiss, it seems, pelvis, and the end of the dream he was diligently cultivating. It is the toughest part of the Dakar.
The stage development scheme is quite simple. Ross Branch opens the track and stays in front for a while. Unconvinced, well rest, not even about seventy kilometers, the Botswana pilot in force of Team Hero lets his pursuer catch up. IS Adrian Van Beveren, Honda, who has no choice, switch to open and try to be as fast as possible. Even this special does not present particular navigation difficulties, but the operation always involves a certain expenditure of time. Van Beveren tries hard, Branch and Docherty, who follow him can’t help him, and the “deal” they do behind the Drivers i are organized to have a favorable starting order. Howes, Quintanilla, Price, Luciano Benavides. They are the ones who capitalize.
I expected a decisive attack by Toby Price, instead the most active in the rear appears to be Skyler Howes. Price probably decided that this was not the day of the “real” attack, or he simply didn’t succeed. Luciano BenavidesHusqvarna, Daniel SandersGasGas, and Toby PriceKTM, still close in order, Howes is fourth at two minutes, Kevin Benavides tenth at six. Paul Lucci, 18th started slowly, was very strong in the central part of the Special, then dropped a little in the final. He takes another 5 minutes from Dumontier, the Rally2 leader, but builds a good starting order for the second part of the Marathon Stage.
Again and again the motorcycle race is excitingincandescent. Howes nice operation converts into the return of the American Pilot at the head of the Generalbut less than 30 seconds there now Toby Price. Kevin Benavides, who was first on the eve, ends up in third place but will enjoy a favorable starting position for the end of the Marathon. the two Honda riders following, now Quintanilla Davanti to Van BeverenI’m a quarter of an hour away and apparently in a dead end. The results of the day can still be at stake, but by now they would seem to be cut off from the fight at the top. A bit like what happens to Luciano Benavides, very good but caught in the grip of his opponents’ strategies. Paolo Lucci resists in 17th position.
It was supposed to be an empty quarter of hell, but apparently, at least up to this point, the music has been anything but brutal. The convoy tends to get longer and longer, as always, depending on the heat and the deterioration of the runways, and therefore there will still be people who arrive late, but not among motorcyclists. Lucci is now traveling on the times of the fastest, today the Tuscan finished the effort just 11 minutes behind Luciano Benavides, but also the rest of the group of Italian privations is now at the Bivouac of the Marathon Stage. Delays ranging from an hour to two hours, but everyone at home with the “most difficult” stage behind them. Except Eufrasio Anghileri, which is still given in the first part of the Special. Obviously a problem, hopefully fixable.
Also because tonight, at the 3 camps of the Empty Quarter Marathon bivouac there are no Assists and the Pilots can only help each other. In most cases there shouldn’t be much to do. Of rubber, for example, today very little has been consumed, and if there have been no particular “heated” engines, the rest can come by itself. In perspective the final part of the Marathon with the return to Shayba, 185 kilometers of Special Stage.
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