Day 3 at the Dakar kicks off with a 803km day of which 275km is the competitive stage distance. The riders start the day at 4am, in the dark, but the beautiful thing about Argentina is the fans throng the road even at 4 in the morning to cheer the riders. The riders are the first to be flagged off, then the quads, then cars and finally trucks.
It’s an easy day according to the riders because there’s not much navigation involved, the route taking pre-defined tracks for the most part. However the problem for the riders was the rains over the past few days had left the track with many puddles and water holes, all of them unmarked on the roadbook. Hero Speedbrain’s lead rider J-Rod crashed in one such puddle and the GPS went under water and stopped working. Without a GPS to go by Joaquim eased off to avoid another crash and finished 22nd.
C S Santosh played it safe on the first proper day of the Dakar, despite which he made up 10 places. He is now in 37th position. “It was the first real stage of the Dakar and it was really fast. In the first half, there were a lot of cautions and there were lots of water puddles that were not on the roadbook. So, I took it easy in that bit and in the latter half of the stage I started getting a good feeling and was able to catch some guys. But it was really dusty. It was a kind of stage where you could pay a big price for a small mistake and ruin your rally.”
Tomorrow the Dakar will run from San Miguel De Tucuman to San Salvador Jujuy, a stage with dramatic changes in temperature and altitude. On the 780km day, 416km are competitive stages taking riders climbing up the Andes, crossing a mountain pass at 5000 meters and ending the day at an altitude of 3000 metres.
Speedbrain managing director Wolfgang Fischer tells me that tomorrow the real Dakar begins, particularly since tomorrow is where navigation comes into play and riders have to use the compass to find their way.