Today was a “marathon stage” where we are not allowed to get service from our crew during the fuel stop. We have to fix everything ourselves. For me this is normal, like during Dakar. Rule number one: TAKE CARE.
Another fast sandy stage, through very varied terrain. Very fun and very fast. This stage was also the same as I did back in 2009, when a stick hit my foot so hard it pierced through my boot and leg. Bearing this in mind I was extra cautious.
Very cold morning and a 86 kilometer liasion to the start. All frozen when I arrived. Started the stage at quite fast travelling speed, “happy speed” I call it. Just the speed to feel safe and have fun. Then when warmed up paced up a bit and passed my team mate Aussie #26 Ben O, who had some bike problem.
At kilometer 125 I passed my team mate Italian Manuel Lucchese who crashed at 150 kmph in a rutted washout. The helicopter was there to help him so nothing I could do. But I sure rolled off the gas after this. Continued the whole stage not pushing it and mostly relying on visual judgment of the track not trusting the roadbook too much. Basically just cruising along, but still quite fast.
When back in the bivouack I heard about many crashes and broken bikes today. And many of my Husaberg team mates: Mick Heuchan #73 bounced big off his bike landing in a tree, Team boss Garry Connell #14 crashed at exactly the same spot as Manuel, lucky to be able to continue. And #26 Ben O also came off hard. Damien Grabham #73 still suffering from a big crash two days ago, did well until his engine stopped just a couple of kms from the finish, and Mick towed him as the good team mate he is!
I guess my decision to roll off the gas today was a good move.
Sam Sunderland Husaberg #10 had a really good stage, finishing second – well done!
Now I’ve moved up to 18th general, and I plan to continue my “cruise” to the finish.
Video of the day. Annie at 1:50 min: