San Juan – Chilecito. First a 211 km timed section, then a 111 km neutralised sector raced at a link section pace, and then another timed section 205 km long. Specials in total 657 km. Highest point to reach is at over 3200 m.
“The longest special stage since 2005 for the cars and a really demanding route in the countryside! Rivers and canyons will offer terrains with interesting possibilities to overtake fellow competitors!”
Standings this stage: pos 83, 12:21:39 (+7:01:07)
Total pos 75.
This was a nightmare stage! Never ending course, in total 868 km. Mainly the same track as in 2011 when I got big problems – leaking oil and engine stopped.
Already at 133 km the engine stopped, loosing all oil. We worked hard to find the leak. It was 35dgr, the sun burning, we stood in a dusty floodbed. The engine is cramped for space, hard to get hands on the problem. Our team partner Yasir passed by, but couldn’t help.
At last the “angel of salvation” team boss Marco Piana came in his rally truck #552, also our service truck just in case. After a long time we found the leaking oil line. We fixed a bypass disconnecting the oil cooler.
Then we could get on the road again, but very slowly so the oil wouldn’t overheat. We were rolling quite well even when it got late night when approaching the finish.
But the last waypoint was tricky! Many cars and trucks were driving around lost in the darkness. Really no fun, we just wanted this to end. And we did reach the finish at last, then only 167 km connection to drive. But after only a few km all oil pressure was gone. Luckily Marco was just behind us and towed us to the bivouac.
So great to have a service truck of your own, always taking you home! I wish I’d had one when racing alone on my bike encountering all those mishaps.
We arrived at the bivouac around 3 in the morning.
Bodily damage: my butt was quite sore after this 20 hours sitting on a bumpy ride.
The mechanichs did their best to fix the oil line and engine, all night and morning.
Too bad Yasir must quit the race halfway of the stage due to broken gearbox.