The second week of the Dakar 2014 is giving the Maxxis Super B Team hard times. Tim Coronel was forced to withdraw due to a broken gearbox, Seb Husseini won a stage but the day after lost all of his advantage due to a broken wheel bearing, the truck is in survival mode and almost toppled over in the dunes.
Seb Husseini survived the marathon stage at the start of the second week with two second places. The altitude, the cold and the mud in Bolivia didn’t make things easy, but Husseini rode consistently and didn’t lose much time. Entering Chile was the day he had been looking forward to for days. The terrain with dunes and sand were in his favour. Husseini opened the attack on his rivals immediately and won stage 9 with supremacy. “My rhythm was great from the start and I was able to push hard.”
Stage 10 seemed to become a continuation of supremacy, since Husseini had pulled a 20 minute gap to his rivals after 100 kms already. But that is where his luck ended and the bearing of his front wheel broke. Husseini managed to repair it but saw all his rivals get by. His 20 minutes advantage turned into a 2 hour setback. “I made it to the finish line and that was the only goal when I tried to get the quad running again. The gap to the top 3 of the standings is getting bigger and bigger, but looking at the days to come I might be glad I’m still in the race. It is going to be tough, but we have seen already nothing is impossible in this Dakar. When I can lose 5 hours, why shouldn’t the others?”
Rumours are that the stewards are investigating a presumed illegal tyre change by two other quad riders. If that is true, they might get up to six hours penalty.
UPDATE: Fuentes is forced to drop out due to a broken engine, meaning Seb is virtually back into the top 3.
Tim Coronel had been eating way too much dust already while on tow behind a series of trucks. Also the Super B truck had towed the Gokobra buggy for a while in stage 9. Coronel stayed overnight in the dunes and entered the bivouac in Iquique early in the morning. The buggy suffered from a broken gearbox. Changing the gear box was not an option since it is integrated in the engine and an engine change is not allowed. The mechanics gave their utter best to repair it but ran out of time.
Coronel could take off in stage 10 but after 66 kms already was in big trouble again. He tried to get through on tow again but the stage was too difficult and time was running out.
After finishing in six out of six Dakars Coronel was obviously disappointed. “We’ve tried everything and gave it all, but this edition of the Dakar is just too tough for the buggy. It’s a scant consolation that I’m not the only one to drop out of this race.”
Kees Koolen, Jurgen van den Goorbergh and Gijs van Uden were forced to lower the pace because of an overheating engine. The problem seems to be tackled as the cooling system didn’t gave them trouble in stage 9 and 10. In return they ran into other trouble: steep dunes. In the memory of Kees Koolen the dunes near Iquique were not too difficult, but his memories turned out to wrong. “The good thing is that with a truck you can get through a lot of different areas and terrain that are impossible to cover with a quad or a buggy. We were stuck in a dip in the dunes a few times. With the buggy or a quad it would take hours to get out, but with the truck it was hardly a challenge: wiggle a few times and full throttle in reverse.”
In stage 10 (Iquique – Antofagasta) for a moment the men were convinced the rally came to an end for them when the truck was toppling over on a dune. Just before the turning point it stopped leaning over. The men got out, but were afraid to let go of the door. “We thought it might still turn over”, co-pilot Jurgen van den Goorbergh explained. A few hours of cautious digging got the truck back into a safe position. They eventually arrived at the bivouac long before midnight.
UPDATE: the truck is in the middle of stage 11 which is announced as the thoughest day of the Dakar.
Robert van Pelt is doing well. Without any assistance it is hard to keep up as the maintenance of his bike costs time he might otherwise use to prepare his roadbook and go to sleep. A small crash in the marathon stage was a wakeup call for Van Pelt to take it easy and be gentle with the bike. Therefore he is dropping back a little bit in the standings but he remains the leader in the malle moto class (riders without assistance).