Antofagasta – Iquique , Special 418 km
Stage pos 31, 06:02:56 (+01:15:57). Total standing 40.
We had a fear of engine problems when the bike didn’t start. My mechanic checked all details: adjusted valves, new sparkplug, cleaned carb and made it leaner, cleaned fueltanks. All was okay, no need to change the engine. The problem is the airfilter. I run two, but now we put a wettex cloth between the two filters and I had a spare set in my riding jacket, in case. Hoped we thought of everything now.
I decided to take no risks today.
Started like a Super Rocket. I was flying! And today i could use thumb a little. Nice fast and sooth track, but with dangerous washouts and cracks. I had one focus – stay out of dust – the engine barely made it yesterday. Strategy in off pist: I cut across everywhere I could only using compass and dust clouds. But my navigation and tactic worked and I passed many riders. At cp1 I was 15th general. I heard many got lost just before, but my navigation was accurate. Until 2/3 of the stage my position was between 15-19! Before cp2-refuel the engine started suffering, and at the refuel I changed the filter. Then the bike was happy again.
Photo by Maindru
Approaching finish I paced down a bit to save energy for the next stage 7 (tomorrow) 600 km, letting some bikers had a chance to overtake – but the time differencies were very small. All afternoon I could ride alone in no dust. enjoyed fantastic scenery, arid plateaus, mountains, dunes… like fom another planet. At the finish we had a 3 km descent from the mountain down to the sea. Breathtaking view! Biggest downhill I ever rode.
I feel just great! My thumb is still swollen but not hurting too much, and I could get good grip of the handlebar. So riding was all right, as there was no more terrible pain disturbing. But every night the thumb gets electro treatment and new supportive bandage.
Quite a race!