La Rioja to Fiambala
Day three at Dakar gives the riders their first true taste of the problems that this course can offer. The roads up until now have been rough, but at least they have existed. On day three, the roads disappear into the dunes. For over 30 km riders fought their way through the white pit, an area filled with large dunes, frequent sand storms. and high temperatures.
These new conditions proved to be too much for Marc Coma and David Casteu who suffered through mechanical problems throughout the day. Coma had to stop many times throughout the day to deal with a “sputtering” engine. After a 22-minute penalty yesterday, and today’s mechanical problems, Coma still hangs in the top ten at eight place.
Casteu, whose Sherco motorcycle continued to overheat throughout the race, stopped to help Coma on the trail. This generous gesture was not rewarded as Casteu could not restart his bike temporarily due to a dead battery. Casteu still managed to finish fourth for the stage, and places second in the overall standings.
Cyril Despres navigated through the dunes with little problems on his KTM, and finished the third stage ten minutes before his nearest competitor. This impressive finish moves him to first place in the overall standings.
“It was a really African-like stage: physically tough with the heat, soft dunes and mechanical aspects to deal with,” says Despres. “I saw Marc Coma had stopped, so I stopped next to him. I made sure my bike didn’t stall because I was scared it wouldn’t start again. But his engine was spluttering… it was a very complicated day.”
Despite the difficulty of the day, the riders remain in high spirits. “If it manages not to break here, it will be okay for the rest of the rally,” says Casteu.