A Promising Stage One at the Dakar Rally Gives the United States Hope
Even the best racers and biggest trucks could be swallowed whole by the mountains of sand making up the Ica region surrounding Pisco.
In a battle between man, machine and Mother Nature, it seemed that yesterday man and his machine have prevailed – this time around. Special Stage One was a relatively short and fast-paced race. The route, 70-percent of which were dunes, sifted out the top competitors who, as it turns out, includes the Americans.
“Although it was a short stage today, it was a very large learning curve for me. The computer equipment on the bike is tricky to pick up right away. Because I didn’t know how to work it, I made some errors, which made me a little frustrated with my results. But ultimately, I was happy with how I was able to move up in the overall position from my starting point. I had to remind myself that I’m in Peru living my dream and not to let anything break my spirit.” – Skyler Howes #73, Garrett Off-Road Racing team
Ricky Brabec (#15) broke into the top three, nabbing the third seat in bikes leaving everyone but Joan Barreda (#5) and Pablo Quintanilla (#6) in his dust. Andrew Short (#29) made great time landing himself at 13 in the ranks. And Garrett Poucher (#71), Skyler Howes (#73) and Nathan Rafferty (#104) fought hard for better starting positions come Second Stage Two, which took off a little later this morning. A relief for riders needing to catch up on some Zzz’s. Poucher and Skyler will begin at the 45th and 46th positions while Rafferty will set off at 97th.
Household name, Robby Gordon, experienced some minor setbacks which had forced him to miss his originally scheduled scrutineering date. But it all worked out in the end, as Gordon and teammate Kellon Walch (#316) drove formidably, finishing 21st in the car rankings. Driver Blade Hildebrand, his co-pilot Bill Conger (#367) and teammates Cole Potts and Max Eddy (#346) also did well for themselves leaving the start line this morning 34th and 43rd in line. Last of the Americans, but certainly not least, Casey Currie (#343), a friend and protégé’ of Robby Gordon’s, promised to make a name for himself at Dakar, in the new Side-by-Side (SxS) class. With a rise in popularity, we’re seeing these leisure utility vehicles pop up in more and more off-road events. And Currie plans to battle his way to the podium in his, earning 6th in class by the time he reached the end of his road book.
Altogether, the first special stage seemed to go off without a hitch. The day produced only a single recorded withdrawal and one non-critical medical situation when a car barrel rolled, so there’s still a lot of folks with skin in the game. And racers aren’t giving in yet! Some delays at the beginning could be expected, but just about everyone reached the proverbial checkered flag unscathed. Tuesday January 8th will offer challengers less dunes but many more kilometers with over 200 for the liaison to San Juan de Marcona in addition to the special stage. Is this where we’ll see competitors begin do drop off, as they so famously do at Dakar? Will the lack of sand be a help or a hindrance? Will the American’s keep up their pace? There’s only one way to find out…
Ø Rankings of Americans
3. Ricky Brabec #15 – 01h 00’ 28” Bike
13. Andrew Short #29 – 01h 04’ 29” Bike
45. Garrett Poucher #71 – 01h 16’ 58” Bike
46. Skyler Howes #73 – 01h 17’ 04” Bike
97. Nathan Rafferty #104 – 01h 38’ 39” Bike
21. Robby Gordon, Kellon Walch #316 – 01h 10’ 49”
34. Blade Hildebrand, Bill Conger #367 – 01h 16’ 11”
43. Cole Potts, Max Eddy #346 – 01h 22’ 03”
6. Casey Currie #343 – 01h 16’ 08”
Ø Top Three Motorcycles
1. Joan Barreda #5 – 57’36”
2. Pablo Quintanilla #6 – 58’10”
3. Ricky Brabec #15 – 01h 00’ 28”
Ø Sara Garcia #98 fell into 111th place overall but shouldn’t be deterred. There’s so much more Dakar left!
Ø 17 women are racing in the 2019 Dakar Rally.
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