|Dakar Rally 2013: Yamaha´s Frans Verhoeven back in overall bike Top 10.|
Frans Verhoeven has moved up dramatically in the general standings of the Dakar Rally 2013. The Dutchman finished 11th in the 11th stage, from La Rioja to Fiambalá, bringing him up to eight in the standings.
The stage was far from the well known and feared Fiambalá stage the competitors expected. There were some dunes, but also stones, rivers, mud and very hard navigation.
"Straight from the beginning it was very difficult", Verhoeven told. "There were waterholes, broken edges: A real mess. It was difficult to ride but also difficult to navigate. At one point I thought I was on the right cap, but soon I found out it was completely wrong. Very tricky circumstances."
Verhoeven met Alain Duclos along the way and together they tried to find a waypoint at kilometer 47. "It was well hidden", according to Verhoeven. "I'm sure a lot of riders went into the wrong direction there. There were ten guys in front of me and I saw ten tracks going different ways. Very weird."
Verhoeven found the waypoint on top of scary steep hill. "I could only just make it to the top. Duclos tried it from another angle: he rode around it and came from the other side."
After a long route through sand and dunes a new scenery opened up: riverbeds and waterholes. "I got rid of Duclos and moved on alone. All by myself, with nobody in sight, I entered the riverbeds. We had got rain on the way to the special and the special itself was wet as well. There was a lot of mud and water in normally dry riverbeds. The water had broken the edges, which made it even more difficult."
Running towards the finish of the special Verhoeven came on to a fast, wide path. "I could ride 140 kilometers an hour there. I was on a high pace when all of a sudden I saw mud. It looked like a just a spot, but at the last moment I saw it was more like a pool of mud. I had too much speed to stop, but the speed pulled me through in the end. But I was all covered in mud. Everywhere! I clean my goggles and my navigation equipment, but moving on I went the wrong way."
Verhoeven knew what he did wrong and managed to get back on track within minutes. It saved him a lot of time and he came in eleventh, leaving his closest contesters in the standings behind him. He moved up five places to eight, just a few minutes behind his teammate Olivier Pain. "The Dakar is not over yet. It began with some hard stages and it will be difficult until the end. I'll try to make the best of it."
2013/01/17 | 11:21 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/GRONENDIJK