|Dakar Rally 2013: SS11 Unlucky day for Helder Rodrigues and Team HRC.|
Famous for its white sand dunes and its torrid temperatures, Fiambala is always a very special stage for the Dakar competitors. A cloudy sky with some rainfalls at the beginning of the day was a blessing for the riders that tackled Wednesdays’ stage characterized by sandy dunes mixed with some rocky paths and difficult navigation.
Shortened by 30 km due to the bad weather conditions of the last few days over the region of Catamarca, Wednesday’s strategy for the Honda HRC Team was to attack to close the gap from the front runners.
Starting in 9th position, Helder Rodrigues gave a tremendous performance both in the first rocky part as well on the dunes, without making any navigation mistakes. He was 1st at CP1 and 2nd at CP2 but bad luck prevented him from a well deserved result that would have allowed him to make a big step forward towards the podium. A branch caught one of the wires of his bike and broke it.
The bike stopped and it took Helder at least 48 minutes to find out the problem and repair it. Finishing 29th, Rodrigues lost 3 positions and now sits in 9th place overall.
"I’m very disappointed because Wednesday I was flying" reported Rodrigues. "I was very fast on the stony paths as well as on the dunes, I made no navigation mistakes but it was just an unlucky day for us. A branch caught a wire of the machine, ripping it out and the machine stopped. It took me a lot of time to fix the problem. It’s a pity because Wednesday’s plan was to attack and I did it but it was definitely not our day."
A navigation mistake at the start of the stage complicated Wednesday’s performance for team mate Javier Pizzolito, but the Argentinian was able to recover positions, finishing the stage in 21st position that assured him a place in the top 10 overall.
"Everything is possible in Fiambala and the cloudy sky helped us a lot as it was not as hot as we expected. The navigation was very difficult Wednesday and I got lost with a bunch of riders at the beginning of the stage, where the path was rocky and there were a lot of tracks" said Pizzolito.
"It took us a while to find the first way point, but afterwards I took my rhythm, recovering some positions. I enjoyed a lot the dunes and I look forward to the next stages in Chile. Being 10th overall is a good result but we need to maintain the concentration as tomorrow’s stage in Copiapo will be really crucial for the final result of the race."
Even if the sand was harder due to the rainfalls of the last few days, it was a very challenging stage for Johnny Campbell, who suffered a lot from the injuries of the previous stages. Despite the intense pain from suspected broken ribs, the "Baja 1000" legend finished 34th and sits now 45th in the overall standings.
"The cloudy sky was a true blessing because I was not fit and the heat would have complicated my stage. My navigation was perfect but I suffered a lot from the pain in my ribs, especially on the dunes and the off piste tracks" said Johnny Campbell. "I fought with my body on the river crossings as there was a lot of water and I was happy to get to the finish."
Katsumi Yamazaki, Team HRC Director: "It was a bad day for us. We had planned to attack with Helder in order to close the gap with the first riders and to get closer to a podium finish. Unfortunately he had an issue with the machine that made him loose valuable time spoiling his stage result and compromising his position in the overall. It’s a pity but Dakar may be like this."
2013/01/17 | 10:55 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/HRC