|Oilibya du Maroc: Rodrigues leads the overall standing in an eventful stage.|
On a day that saw temperatures in the desert hitting 42°C, Honda Team HRC Helder Rodrigues finished on top of the overall rankings after a long and demanding 291 km stage.
The Rally leaves Erfoud to go down south / west to Zagora covering part of the old Dakar piste. SS3 is a long, very fast stage with a lot of difficult navigation, off-track on dry lake beds, fech fech areas and camel grass.
Starting third, Helder Rodrigues pushed hard to catch Coma, but was navigating alone when he saw a badly damaged bike in an open "piste" with camel grass. He stopped to assist Marc, who had injured his shoulder in the crash, until Lopez and Casteu arrived. Helder opened the track again until the end of the stage, finishing the SS3 in 2nd position, just 3 seconds behind Paulo Goncalves who won today's stage.
With 10 riders in the first ten minutes, it was a very positive day also for Team HRC with Sam Sunderland, who rode consistently at a high pace finishing 6th just 6’ behind Helder and Felipe Zanol 10th, 3:55 mins behind the team mate. Javier Pizzolito rode focusing on the road book to train in preparation for the Dakar, finally finishing 16th and Johnny Campbell, 21st, who is getting more into the race rhythm day by day.
Helder Rodrigues, 2nd in SS3, 1st in the overall classification: "I started third behind Marc. I was pushing to catch him but, after a while, because of the dust I didn’t know where he was. Then I saw a badly damaged bike, I saw Marc and I stopped to assist him. I called the CP course for medical help, and assisted him in opening his jacket and handing him a cap for sun protection. Many riders didn’t stop but for me it’s normal, it's part of the race."
"In the desert, if someone crashes and it looks serious I stay with him and assist him. Then, when the first 2 riders arrived, I continued my race, pushing hard because I wanted to gain time on Cyril for a higher position in the overall classification. I’m now leading and this is a very good result after the first 3 stages with my CRF 450 Rally."
Sam Sunderland, 6th in SS3, 10th in the overall classification: "It was a very tiring stage because of the navigation and there were many places where there where no traces. I’m happy because I rode without making mistakes. It was really hot and dusty and it reminded me of Dubai. I’m satisfied with the machine. The suspension was working better after the changes we made."
Felipe Zanol, 10th in SS3, 8th in the overall classification: "I made a mistake at a waypoint at km 123 that I validated without realizing and I lost 4-5 minutes looking for the validation. I could have finished in a better position but in this rally accurate navigation is important for me, as is testing the machine to collect as much information as possible".
Javier Pizzolito, 16th in SS3, 13th in the overall classification: "it was a fast stage with very hard terrain and many points of difficult navigation. My priority for this rally is to gain accuracy in navigation even if this means that my average speed is a bit lower. For me this is an important training session before the Dakar and I’m satisfied with today’s stage".
Johnny Campbell, 21st in SS3, 21st in overall classification: "It was a very fast stage- too fast for me. I prefer a slightly more technical ride. We had a lot of rocks, dry lake beds and hard tracks where we reached the top speed on the bike many times. I made a mistake at km 160 because there was a lot of dust catching the slower riders. I saw Marc, he was getting medical assistance. It was not a very fast track where he crashed but with many dangers and camel grass".
Katsumi Yamazaki, Team HRC LPL: "Another very positive day for Team HRC, we are collecting very important data of how the machine works on different terrains, that will be very useful in preparation of the Dakar. The whole team is doing a great job, not only the riders but also engineers, mechanics and the staff in general. We are globally constructed team with 30 people representing 11 different nationalities".
2012/10/18 | 11:56 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/HRC