Spectators

Hitting the road

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ENGLISH
The starting ceremony today was a party, like always in Buenos Aires. So many cheering people everywhere along the road. The competitors feel like heroes.

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SVENSKA
Startceremonierna var en riktig folkfest, som alltid i Buenos Aires. Enormt mycket människor överallt längs vägen. De tävlande känner sig som hjältar.

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VIDEO, Youtube: Spectators cheering and welcoming Annie

Mujeres Tuercas – fanclub!

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During the Dakar I met the Mujeres Tuercas Fanclub a couple of times. They are a bunch of “motorhead” girls cheering me on in the rally, waving the big yellow banner with “GO ANNIE” written on it during stages.
Now they made this slideshow! I am so happy to have these friends, so far on another continent – but so close in my heart! (You can join on Facebook too!)

Arriving in Buenos Aires

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Annies winning arrival in Buenos Aires, frontDuring the 335km transport into Buenos Aires the road was packed with cheering and waving crouds. There are so many spectators, all Argentina seems to be watching this event.

“And I waved back to everyone. In Buenos Aires there were even more photos, autographs, hugs, kisses.
I’m quite famous here. Everyone has seen me on TV when my bike was in that tomb!”

Here arriving in a parade through the streets in Buenos Aires.

Annies winning arrival in Buenos Aires, side

Annie after finishing her 4th DakarIn the evening a nice dinner with all friends in the Aussie Team, for finishing Dakar with great success.

Right:
Annie after finish of her 4th Dakar rally, filling body with energy – also needing some facial shine-on…

;-)

Below:
Mange, Gazza, Kev, Garry, Richie, Annie, Alana & Rob (biker #122, pos 38)

Aussie team & Annie at dinner after Dakar

Stage 14 – Finally at finish. Yes!!!

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Santa Rosa-Buenos Aires, Special 206 km
Flat sand, dusty, very fast.
Position stage 37, 01:47:56 (+0:21:08). Total 45. Winner of the Ladies class.

She did it!
Annie held the good and even speed through the whole stage, without taking any risks. Trying to gain a few minutes wouldn’t affect the total standig anyway. Today there’s nothing to win only everything to loose.

Annie at finish of S14

She made a short phone call home to friends just after finish:
“I am very happy with this result, considering all mishaps during the rally. Maybe it was not the perfect race I hoped for – but is that even possible, Dakar is unpredictable! I aimed at top 40, and I was very close to get there. It was that damned visit in the tomb and my thumb! My other aim was winning the ladies class – and this I acchieved by a wide margin. It feels so fantastic I can’t even describe it.”

Ullevålseter & wifeAnnie has already at the finish line told the big congrats to Pål-Anders for his wonderful second position.
And all the riders will celebrate together at the arrival in Buenos Aires.
Photo right: A happy Ullevålseter with his wife

Depres signs Annies t-shirtA famous female
Late at night Annie sent a textmessage with some more details:
Annie and Oldrich“I set off in good speed on dead straight pist, with lots of dust. Stayed behind the rider in front… no taking risks. Soon faster bikes caught up, and I let them pass, since I was already at max speed. Just waited to cross the finish line… making no mistakes.

And when I arrived at finish I was so happy that I finally made it: best woman and a good total, despite the dramas.
I’ve worked so hard for this, for many years. A big kiss and hug party with my team and rider friends, many interviews, photos. Got my t-shirt signed by all riders, also winner Despres – so fun!”
Images above right:
Annie with bike winner Despres and quad-rider Oldrich

Annie gets a thorough scrubRight:
Annie gets a thorough scrub after the race.

Below:
Super Rocket gets a shine-on and a touch up on stickers.

Super Rocket gets a shine-on

Stage 14. Message from fans along the route

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Annie passing Salazar

In the morning on stage 14 passing the village Salazar spectators stood along the road. Some fans took the photo above and sent it to the blog with this lovely message. Thank you!

Message from fans
I really think that Annie showed great skills and cool presence of mind when jumping off the bike just before it fell in that tomb hole (Jan 10, stage 8).

Last year there was a lot of buzz amongst “ecologistas” for the rally passing through land that is “sacred” for indians living in these areas. Then the route was changed.
This year obviously the rally got too near the ancient indian spirits again…
Maybe now the spirit of an old indian chief woke up – but got so impressed by Annie’s courage, that he gave her wings to avoid the deep hole. It’s surely a mysterious miracle that she came off well! A fantastic performance, either way.
Just completing a dakar rally is a major achievement, and we greatly admire your skills and fighting spirit.

Last year Carlos Sainz fell down a ravine, also due to an error in the road book. Don’t the course makers fly over the area and check it up? A big hole like that must be visible from above.
This time Annie was lucky, but if she had fallen in the tomb 5 m down on a stone floor, she had been killed!
“It’s Dakar”, Annie says. But a fatal accident is no good PR for the rally.

Franscisco & familyWe feel very privileged to have seen the dakar rally so close where we live, two years in a row! We have followed your progress on your blog too.
Again a lot of congratulations to Annie! You deserve a decoration for special achievements.

Elisabeth and our farmer family.
Photo: my son Francisco (photographer) with wife and kid.

Stage 13. Nice and easy

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San Rafael-Santa Rosa. Special 368 km
Prel: Stage pos 32, 04:16:01 (+00:32:32). Total 45

The tracks were quite fast today, and fun – some tricky parts but not too bad. Grey dunes and fast forward. Morning started in grey sand, very soft and slippery.

I had bad memories from last year when I rode here with crashed nose and bike, late evening, rain and hail. Now sunny and good pace, found the good lines! Got tricked by a waypoint, missed it only by few meters and realized it 600m later, turned back and got it. Last 100km fast sandy track, locked on full gas. Should have had a big faster bike… made a very good stage all in all.

I found a good pace, I kept it calm and safe. This close to the finish of this rally there it’s no point in taking any risks; it wouldn’t really improve my position. But as anything still can happen, mistakes surely could ruin all what I’ve achieved.
I’m very content with todays result. During a rally I focus on one day at the time, but coming this far I can actually see the finish line in Buenos Aires tomorrow.

Spectators surrounding Annie

Stage 1. Flying start for Annie

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Annie on 1st stage
Image by Maindru Photo

Stage 1, Jan 2: Buenos Aires – Cordoba

#076 SEEL (SWE) KTM / Standing 45 / 02:09:17 +00:18:35

Annie was very happy after this stage. The special 150 km was a mix of very technical parts and fast gravel roads. The KTM 525 – “Super Rocket” – really rocks super. There is a lot of power in this engine. Also the size feels good, though the rear part is higher than usual because of the long shockabsorbers.

This day was kind of warming up. Annie took it the safe way, taking no risks in the dust. Relayed on her routine without getting too eager in the beginnig of the race. Almost the whole stage she kept company with #77 Hamard, a biker with dakar experience and good navigation skills.
The day started early and also the stage finished early, so there was plenty of time for a shower, eating and bike service.
Tomorrow Annie starting number is better, which means less overtaking and riding in her own tempo.

And some sorrow…
The rally also had a very sad beginning. A rally car veered off of the road and ran right into a group of spectators. Several people were badly hurt, and later a woman died of her injuries.

Jan 1. A burning intro…

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Today’s program:

Riders meeting at 10.00.
Start from parc ferme at 14.51.
Podium 30 minutes later.
300 kms transport to Colon, night in bivouac.
First rally stage tomorrow Jan 2, Colon – Cordoba.

Already at noon a dramatic event

Bike #73 just caught fire … next to mine. I had to run and leave by bike, afraid of explosion. Dared to go back after 30 sec and take my bike away.
I’ve got it all on film!
(Please wait until I can publish it on my blog.)

Prologue through the streets of Buenos Aires

In the afternoon during the parade I have waved to half a million spectators! It was really crazy on the streets, and the roads also. People in Argentina are totally wild about Dakar. My left arm is so tired of all waving! But this is a wonderful experience getting so much support from everybody.

Annie on the podium at start
Image by Maindru Photo

Meeting my team and celebrities. More packing.

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My mechanic LaurentThis morning I met team Meca’System in the assistance park. Good to meet them again and team boss Gilles Tixador who has made many dakar rallies on a bike.
Mechanics Laurent, Cedric and Gaetan all helped me fixing my bike, the bits and pieces not finished before. Mounted fork socks to prevent dirt and mud tear the fork seals, carbonfibre fork protectors to hold off rocks, leather seat cover, changing the angle of the side stand, some electrical adjustments for safety equipment etc. The carburettor was re-jetted for hot climate.
I also packed my Dakar-boxes, this year in grey – they’ve been white since ever.. The box contains: spare engine, carb, extra roadbook, various spareparts, helmet light, some tools, duct tape, gogglebag! And survival food as nuts, bars and energy gel. and extra clothes of course.

Smile of the day:
A cab pulled up outside the team tent and yelled “Annie!!!” It was the taxidriver who drove me to the hotel last night, now he popped by to say hello and have our photo taken together.

Stars of the day:
I met norwegian superstar Pål-Anders Ullevålseter in the cafeteria together with guatemalan rider Franscisco Aredondo.
In my team Meca’System there are many hot riders: argentinian Patronelli Quad team are riding. Quads are really hot in South America!
Also Prohgens brothers from Copiapo are superstars in Chile.
Argentinian Laurent Lazard, and former KTM factory pilot Jean Brucy, now co-pilot in Nissan team, stopped by.

In the afternoon the Aussie team came to pick me up and later we had dinner at our usual restaurant on the corner;  for me a nice steak!

Argentinians and Chileans

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The people are so welcoming here! It never happened to me (Dunerider) to feel like a “star”. People seem to be so fond of motorsport here that we are asked many times a day to pose with them for pictures. Just crazy – makes us smile a lot. The passage of the Rally Dakar 2009 is a unique event and probably for some smaller villages the most exciting event in history. In the larger cities the crowds of people welcoming us and the competitors is just absolutely amazing. Hundreds and hundreds of people fill the streets, shout, cheer.

Annie at the arrival in Copiapo explained to me that many people shout her name while she is passing by. They remember her from the Patagonia Rally a couple of years ago. She was amazed by this. “I have my personal fans here – and they remember me – that’s so great here”.

While I am in La Rioja in an Internet Cafe uploading the Blog, she is racing the special stage between Fiambala and La Rioja. Should be very muddy and hard today, as it has been pouring rain all night. Looking forward to see her at the Bivouac this afternoon.