Stage 14, Cordoba-Buenos Aires. Annie finishes the last special

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I just arrived to the press center in La Rural in Buenos Aires, and retrieved information about Annie’s standings. She finished the last special of 227 Km at position 82. Less than few hours separate Annie from the arrival in Buenos Aires!!! Looking forward to meeting her soon at the Parc ferme’.

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Stage 13, La Rioja-Cordoba. Fast and safely

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Even today’s special stage was shortened by some 300 km. This because of much rain in the area which had made most of the route impassable. Instead the competitors had a longer connection to reach the start. Only the last 220 km of the track was opened for the rally.
Luckily there were no difficulties on the way, just to ride ahead. Winding route, a lot of fun. These kilometers were quite fast, an average of 70-100 km/h.
And Annie kept up the speed through the whole stage. With an aching and immovable shoulder after the several crashes yesterday!
She finished the stage as 61, just behind Mirjam Pol, her rival.

More info later….
Posted by Sis Eila

Special Stage 13 – La Rioja – Cordoba

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Annie just started her special stage in positon 114 at 12:51 local time.

Annie never gives up

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Annie faced a very hard day yesterday, Stage 12 Fiambala-La Rioja. During the whole day the mechanics and myself were not able to get detailed information about what happened and we were all very worried as it appeared she would be stuck between CP2 and the end of the special stage. Laurent, her mechanic, his teammates and myself were running up and down all evening between CPO and the service truck in order to read Iritrack data. We only got information from some drivers passing by. We knew a helicopter had landed to help her, but no more.
Finally at 2:00 am Annie made it back to the bivouac. Annie fell between CP2 and the end of the stage. She injured her shoulder which was already suffering from a ligament problem. In a lot of pain, exhausted she was helped by a teammate motorbiker to get up and a helicopter came to bandage her.
She did not give up and kept going, and eventually reached the end of the stage. Because she already had passed CP2, the information that the special stage had been shortened by the organization did not reach her – maybe??? She fought for ending the original special stage, in pain, without need.
All professional drivers criticized very badly the difficulty of this particular stage. Many said it has been the most difficult stage in their life. Hard to imagine what this means. Just too much! Too dangerous, many of them say.
The organization decided to shorten the second part of the special stage (after CP2) when cars, trucks and bikes were stuck at the bottom of high dunes, with no engine power left, due to the effect high altitude over 4000 metres has on fuel engines if the carburator is not adapted to the conditions.
I was shocked when Annie told me that cars and trucks, because they were not able to climb the dunes from one side, they would be forced to take a u-turn and drive full speed against the direction motorbikers were driving. Bikers would face cars and trucks with the risk of a frontal impact.
I accompanied Annie to the medics at 2:30 am. Annie wanted to be bandaged in order to keep competing the following day. “If I made it today, tomorrow I will also make it” she said. The medics, myself and the mechanics motivated her to think carefully wether to continue racing in this conditions. No way… It is impossible to stop Annie.
Annie woke up, jumped on her bike this morning at 6:45 am, holding her bike with the power of one arm only. She is now racing.  “You cannot stop superwoman” said Laurent, after we both saw her departing from the Meca’System truck. Fingers crossed for her!!!

Stage 12. Finished at last after 14 hrs

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In the evening at 9 Annie made it to the finish as no 115 (last one?), time 13:38:43. And in addition 4 hrs penalty for exeeding the time limit. It sucks…

The bike has run badly all day – very slow, consuming too much fuel etc. She got gas from people in the villages. Also Henrik Rahm, a fellow competitor, helped out.
The malfunctioning bike also caused crashes. She is badly hurt in the shoulder. A rescue helicopter came and bandaged the shoulder, it ached terribly. Henrik wanted her to quit the race. No way!!!

A Lady in distress…
She was only 5 km from finish, at a river ridge and couldn’t get over. (Fiambala area) She needed help to find a passage.
She tried to call/sms her rally-friend Henrik. But there was no connection. So Annie called home to Swden from her mobile phone in the evening. Sister Eila started a contact network. But in the meantime she found a way to get over the river-bed and made it to the finish.
After that there were still 260 km liaison.

Henrik finished at 7 pm (local time).
A lot of trucks and cars were stuck too at the river. Many participants have criticized the route – sensless planning, terrain not suitable for rally vehicles etc. And too dangerous.

It was a long day’s thrill also for all supporters. Many of them tried to get assistance for Annie. Thanks!
Posted by Sis Eila

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.

Stage 12, Jan 14. Fiambala-La Rioja.

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Due to archeological discoveries in the Fiambala region right on the route of the rally, the day’s stage is shortened by some 30 km.

Stage 11, jan 15. Copiapo-Fiambala. Cancelled special stage

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The whole special stage is cancelled because of heavy fog, still lingering in the area. The dakar-caravan with all participants, starting at 8 am, moves on from Copiapo, Chile over the high Andes (over 4000m) to the next bivouac in Fiambala, Argentina.
It is quite a long trip – 600 km – and cold up in the mountains. Annie has put on a lot of warm clothes…

During this evening the results of stage 10 were done. A lot of riders got 4 hrs penalty, surely for missed controls, also M Pol. This makes Annies standings better, 57th in total! Pol is just behind.
Posted by Sis Eila

Stage 10, Jan 13 Copiapo-Copiapo. Even higher & tougher…

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Highest altitude over 2000 m. Changed route again: the section between CP3 and CP5 (200 km) is excluded = 476 km loop. To day’s start was delayed by 2:40 because of fog. Also the last 40 km of the dune section concerning the late cars and trucks was cancelled.

The route was difficult to navigate and the terrain really tough. Annie missed the last waypoint that wasn’t marked in the roadbook – as many others – and had to turn back around the high and steepy mountain. It was a timeloss, but better than getting 2 hrs penalty for skipping the WP. Many bikes and cars circled astray around in the area, even some top riders. Several spent the night along the last section as it got too dark.

Riding this stage was very strenuous, especailly the arms got tired. Sometimes Annie had not enough strength to hold the big bike upright on the tricky track – causing several falls. At low speed riding among the rocks is quite troublesome.
Considering the many withdrawals – and also one death, another barely alive – she’s happy to be in the race so far.

Henrik Rahm (swe) run out of gas only 5 km from finish. He had to stay out there over night till he got fuel in the morning from a service car. The other Swede Thomas Berglund crashed before CP2. He hit his head badly, but the bike’s front wheel was damaged even worse. So his race is over, unfortunatelly. He was ranked 15-20 till then.
The swedish team Wallentheim-Ohlsson were very disappointed beeing stopped before finish because of darkness. Many results are still incomplete.
Posted by Sis Eila & Mange

Stage 9, Jan 12 La Serena-Copiapo. Along the mountain side.

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Due to very soft and unstable sand at the end of the stage, it was shortened by 20 km. Still a long track, 430 km. Very stoney in the first part. Like riding marathon enduro, but with a too heavy bike, 170 kg.

I had no problems with navigation, but all that dust made it difficult to keep up speed. Also the big stones made me fall a lot of times. I had thought that slowing down would be easy. So wrong! I got totally out of rhythm. So I changed to a higher gear – which payed off. Also the sandy part at the end was okay. I finished as 55 on the stage.

Also the organizers will compensate me for time loss helping another rider last week, thus getting 20 min off my result. Don’t know how and when it is displayed.
Posted by Sis Eila