Quinn Cody Crash: http://www.rtve.es/alacarta/videos/dakar/espectacular-caida-dakar/1286688/The World’s most grueling rally, the Dakar is up and running in South America for the fourth time since being displaced from terror ridden Africa. Happy in its new home the race is enjoying huge popularity world-wide and even with American entries since the logistics of getting to Argentina are a bit easier than Africa. But the rally has not been kind to the American motorcycle riders so far, with our two top pilots Jonah Street and Quinn Cody out of the rally.
This year the route is a coast-to-coast through Argentina, Chile and Peru over 8300 Kilometers in total but the actual racing mileage is much shorter since there are very long transfer sections to get out of the populated areas to let the racing begin. The racing section, called special sections are timed down to the hundredth of a second and are navigated without course markings, just a mapping roadbook and a crude GPS unit to guide the riders and drivers along, all while racing 450cc machines full gas.Unfortunately the first day of the rally was marred with the death of a motorcycle racer from Argentina, Jorge Anders Boero who crashed and suffered cardiac arrest while being transported to the hospital even though the doctors were on scene less than five minutes after the accident. And as usual the cat and mouse game of Factory KTM riders Cyril Despres and Marc Coma were in full effect. Coma pinned it coming up just a few seconds short of winning the first stage, finishing second to Francisco “Chaleco” Lopez on an Aprillia. Cody was off to a good start just 30-seconds down on the leaders after the short 57-kilometer warm up stage across the beaches finishing in fourth. Despres, on the other hand, decided to take it easy in order to get used to the rally bike again and have a starting position a little farther back on the second day finishing in 13th position, all part of the cat and mouse.
The second day was the last day for American rider Jonah Street who’s Yamaha suffered electrical problems and could not continue. “I don’t really know what happened with the bike, yet,” Street said. “It’s something electrical for sure. It started acting up at about 220 km into the special test today, and then at about 224 km the bike died. It took me about three hours to get from that point to the 256 km mark. From there, it just kept getting worse—going only a tenth of a kilometer at times and waiting sometimes for 15 minutes to get it fired again. At 256 km there was a turn where I could go into the village where the finish line was for the day or I could turn and go through the sand dunes to attempt to finish the stage. I knew the bike wouldn’t make it through the dunes so, unfortunately, the Dakar rally ended for me right there.”Cody was also having difficulties with is bike. On the transfer section the bead on his tire broke and he was lucky that the KTM support truck came by and assisted him even though he was on a Honda, such is life on the Dakar. Then in the stage his bike developed mechanical issues with the fuel pump costing him a fair amount of time moving him back past the 20th position. Up front the two KTM riders showed why they are the favorites on the 275 Km stage pulling away from the field, Coma from the front and Despres passing through the pack. In the end Coma maintained an advantage but it was still slim at 2’52”.
Day three was another blow to America’s hopes in the Dakar with Cody crashing and breaking his collarbone putting him out of the race. And the navigational game that rally is showed up when while pushing each other hard at the front, Coma took the wrong route (in fact he took the car route and not the special bike route) and Despres made the correct turn. With that the French rider pulled ten minutes of advantage over the Spaniard and in rally that can be an eternity for a top rider as the starting times will allow Despres to just follow Coma and only lose a minute or two every other day. So the pressure is on Coma to ride fast and ride away from Despres, while navigating, which is a difficult thing to do. Not that just racing the bike alone for the rest of the rally is any small feat in itself.
Other Americans on the rally include Ned Suesse, 54th position, on a KTM, James Embro, 106th on a KTM, Michael Stanfield (had not finished stage three as of writing) on a KTM, and Bill Conger on a Husky who retired on day 2 with mechanical issues from a reported crash.Also for Motorcycle fans, America has another big hope. It is with Robby Gordon in the Hummer as his navigator is none other than Johnny Campbell. The 11-time Baja 1000 champion and finisher of the Dakar on a motorcycle back in 2001 is reading the roadbook and telling Gordon where to go. And he is going fast, currently sitting in second overall in the cars.If you want up to the minute updates on all things Dakar, it is as easy as going to www.dakar.com and check back for some motorcycle specific analysis right here at