Dakar racers fear fesh-fesh pits

2014-01-16 00:00

THE Dakar racers yesterday split into two sections as Chile’s version of quicksand — the feared fesh-fesh, waited to entrap riders and drivers on stage 10.

With four cars in the top places, Mini again dominated stage 10 with an iron fist. Nasser Al-Attiyah currently leads Stéphane Peterhansel by 14 minutes, with Nani Roma third and Orlando Terranova fourth. Giniel de Villiers holds the provisional fifth place, just over 11 minutes back.

In their made-in-KZN Ford Ranger, the sand specialist Lucio Alvarez and co-driver Bernardo Graue fought hard to regain the time they had lost in Tuesday’s stage 9 after having to dig the Rangers from deep sand.

Alvarez yesterday said in a statement, “We went okay through the sand until we missed a waypoint.

“We drove around to find it but when we tried to return to our road, we became stuck and stayed there for 40 minutes.

“It took a lot of work, very hard work, to dig the Ranger out. We were only about 20 km from the finish and it was a disappointing way to end the stage.”

Graue said he fainted just as the Ranger finally popped out. “The sand was almost a metre deep at the rear of the car. We had to dig it out which was hard in the heat.

“I pushed the car until it finally escaped the sand and then fainted. I had to sit down, although maybe I fell down! Lucio came over to me quickly and poured water over me which helped me to recover. I said, ‘Okay, okay, let’s go’ and we jumped back into the car and continued,” said Graue.

Alvarez required all his instincts to traverse the sections of fesh-fesh in the second part of yesterday’s stage 10.

The drivers and riders only discover the powdery pits when they smash into them, shooting a cloud of talcum-fine sand into the air.

There is no rule to how deep these traps may be and shallow gullies filled with fesh- fesh and rocks are a nightmare for especially the riders. On the bikes, SA’s Riaan van Niekerk, (Broadlink KTM) again rode carefully to maintain his 14 spot overall, with privateer Brett Cummins still aiming for a podium in his category, where he lies sixth.

In the trucks Andrey Karginov (Kamaz) and Aleš Loprais (Tatra) yesterday continued their full-speed-ahead duel, with the Czech Loprais narrowly beating the Russian after they had crossed one checkpoint a second apart. Last year’s truck winner Eduard Nikolaev finished the stage in third place.

After flying over the racers, nine times World Rally Champion [WRC] Sébastien Loeb said he now had a better grasp of just how difficult the Dakar is.

“In traditional [WRC] rallying, we drive specials that are a maximum of 40 to 50 kilometres long and that’s already tiring. So, I can’t imagine how they can ride or drive so fast for more than 400 km!”

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