Stage 8, jan 11 Valparaiso-La Serena. The first day of the rest of the race.

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Uphill and downhill, winding gravel roads. Very tricky. The first half of this stage I had full speed. But after refueling I slowed down because it was slippery, stony and dusty. I must save some strength for tomorrow – a long and tough day in dunes.
Stage result 51. Quite an improvement!

There are no limits to the spectators enthusiasm! As I passed them on my bike they came very close and wanted to touch me. Someone grabbed my arm so I wheeled right into the crowd.

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Smashing… stage 5

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Annies broken nose
Annies broken nose

I met the doctor for VW-team and he told my nose is broken. Pretty? And yet the helmet took the hardest hits…
(See also the picture below on “Two days after the crash”)
Well, that’s Dakar… pain and pleasure, hate and love – I take it all. And so I told the reporter too who interviewed me. It was shown on Eurosport.
Posted by Sis Eila

Annies broken helmet
Annies broken helmet

Two days after the crash

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Rally Dakar 2009, originally uploaded by dunerider70.

Two days after the crush, Annie’s motivation is raised tremendously and her facial contusion is improving a lot. Today we spent some time together working. Annie did her laundry and also worked on the “bad kharma” which has been haunting her since the beginning of the race. Her strategy is now changed. She will race day by day – she said. Laurent, her mechanic who calls her “superwoman”, has worked all day on the motorcycle and prepared it for tomorrow. / Dunerider

Stage 7, Jan 9 Mendoza-Valparaiso. Still going strong

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Again the stage was reduced because of difficult terrain and the mountain-section was excluded. The trucks didn’t start att all, instead they went directly to Valparaiso.
Annie’s riding was very good. Overtook many bikers, place about 50. But then got unlucky again: the shock absorber broke (is changed already 3 times!), the front fork leaked oil into the break, so stopping was impossible. Fell several times and lost much time; finished as 60. Seems to have bad karma, jinxed with trouble… Anybody who knows voodoo? Some white magic could help.

But the atmosphere is really fantastic! Never experienced so much enthusiasm among the spectators. Had no idea that rally is so big here. Several riders are south-americans, so it’s fun to have the rally here. It’s crowded everywhere, along the route and around the bivouacs – all ages from kids to oldies, parents showing up their babies to us, begging for autographs etc. The Latins are real party people.
All support makes one feel excited and strong despite all hardship. Now it’s time for a shower and then rest.
Half of the race is done and 71 bikers have abandoned. Annie’s total is 79.
Posted by Sis Eila

Stage 7 – Annie is gaining time

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After the horrible crush of 2 days ago and the careful driving of yesterday, seems to be overtaking a lot of bikers on her way to the finish of the 7th leg. She finished today’s special at position 61! Tomorrow it will be a good resting day for her. regaining more forces for a even better Stage on the 11th of January.
/ Dunerider

Stage 6, Jan 8 San Rafaël-Mendoza

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There was a route modification for this stage due to the difficulties of the 5th stage. Many contestants had problems and finished very late, or even stayed the night on the track. They were wet, cold and tired having not slept. So the departure of the special section was postponed by two hours. Yesterday’s stage has been neutralized – that means no time limit – so all competitors have been authorized to start today. Because of an impassable river ford the special was reduced to only 178 km.
The track was shorter, but still quite tricky. Annie had good speed in racing, overtook many bikers. Felt all right and happy at finish. Position 86 on this stage. Though must find out why 52 min penalty…?
/ Posted by Sis Eila

Buenos Aires at the Press Center

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LEVI-3910, originally uploaded by dunerider70.

Annie, using skype on my mac. Dunerider

Bivouac in Jacobacci

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Rally Dakar 2009, originally uploaded by dunerider70.

The hardest dunes!

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Yesterday evening before midnight at the Bivouac in San Rafael the situation was tensed. Many competitors were still out there in the dunes, blocked by the extreme conditions. Also Annie had a very hard time yesterday. She was involved in a accident as the brake cable got stuck into the wheel and she fell with her helmet on the navigation system. She told me she was luck to be alive, and not have suffered from heavy injuries. The view of her helmet was scary. The whole face protection part was broken.
Annie and many others described these dunes a the hardest dunes ever. A very experienced “dune skater” like Annie, felt like an amateur in this particular environment. “They where hard at the bottom, and soft at the top” she said.

I stayed with her at the medical center until 3.30 am when she got to bed. She explained to me she saw a BMW in flames in the dunes. Trucks upside down, motorbikers resting together and searching shelter from the thunderstorm.
At 6:30 this morning she was awake, with a new helmet in her hand, and started the next stage. Few hours ago I checked, and she had started the special stage in time. Fingers crossed for Annie Seel, the swedish rally princess who is able to stay focused also in the most difficult situations when many others prefer to quit.