ISDE DAY 5: We can see light at the end of the tunnel

By Bryan Nylander and Jason WebbWhat a difference 24 hours can make. The pits a buzz with excitement as only a half day of racing remains. However, today wasn't a cakewalk by any means. Engine problems struck friend and foe alike. Fred Hoess retired before Time Check 2 with valve problems on his TE250. And Stefan Merriman's nemesis, Arnauld Demeester blew a piston during one of the sand tests and effectively handed the lead of the 250 2-stroke class back to the Aussie. But it is another Stefan who is the overall leader after five days. This would be World Motto Champ Stefan Everts. Only Fin Juha Salminen topped him today in a special test. Everts is the man. Although his inconsistent results hurt him in the overall, French Junior Trophy rider Freddy Blanc continues to show flashes of brilliance and was able to keep Merriman on his toes, beating him in a special test.For the Americans, it was almost a repeat of yesterday. Kurt Caselli was our top rider in the tests and the rest of the pack held their ground. Mike Kiedrowski had a rough ending to his day- he ripped his bead while doing a rear tire change and wound up getting to the impound late and dropping a route point.Club rider Eric Bee gave everyone a scare when he had a fifth gear get off just prior to Check 3. In fact, the riders witnessing it were surprised his bike came through nearly unscathed and that he was up and walking without any problems. Crashes have been a daily routine for most of the riders here with the deep sand and unpredictable trails. The bikes are often limping into the pits with headlights dangling or rear fenders askew. But no serious injuries in the American camp, that is the best news we have.As for our own adventure, things were pretty light for Team Dirt Rider. We only had to do a filter swap in the morning work period and check the spokes. Jason and several riders got filled with the "good" gas out of the GNCC pit, which was so different from the swill the bikes have been drinking that it caused them to run overly rich. Many bikes were cutting out on the top end with the high-end stuff and as a result, really hurt the performance and times of the riders, especially in Test Three. A couple of refuelings later and the bikes began to run better on the low-grade gas they were jetted for.The final day of racing for us showed low drama and we dare say, fun. Just a filter change in the morning and off to town to await the start of our class in the SuperMoto. Normally, the last day is a motocross style race, but for this year it is a SuperMotard event somewhere in or near Fortaleza.Believe it or not, Team DR outlived the expectations of some and a short day and packing are all that remain on our Official Agenda.