|SA-Dakar: Paulo Goncalves and Ze Helio lost valuable time in the desert.|
Wednesday´s stage led high up to the "roof of the Dakar" and was made difficult by cold temperatures and rain, as the riders had to climb up to 4,800 meters altitude. Following a 500 kilometer long passing of the Andes mountains the route led straight into the Atacama desert, making navigation difficult. Many participants took the wrong way, among them the quickest pilots of Team BMW Motorrad by speedbrain. Both Paulo Goncalves and Ze Helio lost valuable time in the desert.
Goncalves, the highest ranked speedbrain representative, lost 15 minutes on his rivals Despres and Coma when he got his navigation wrong. The Portuguese reached the finish in Calama in 19th place, but maintained fourth in the standings. Teammate Ze Helio was among the many victims of the day also. The Brazilian sits eighth in the overall ranking. Notably, the time difference between third and tenth place is just ten minutes.
Best speedbrain rider on the day proved to be Frans Verhoeven. The Dutch rally ace displayed strong navigation skills on his way to ninth place in the stage. Verhoeven, who had started the race in 16th spot, has improved his position and will be better off tomorrow. The Atacama awaits the field with 423 kilometers of special test and plenty of sand, hills and stones.
Frans Verhoeven: "I had to deal with the dust early on and paced myself. Many riders followed a wrong route and I took advantage. I hope that my improved situation will allow me to make up further ground. The race is still very long. I will give my best to keep moving up the order."
2011/01/06 | 12:09 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/SPEEDBRAIN