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.
For now I’m happy to be alive! At 358 km the front mudguard was torn off, maybe caused by a big stone. It got in the wheel and tore off the break cable too.
It was an abrupt stop, I flew over the bike and crashed the front of the helmet. I barely saved my teeth, nose and eyes. But didn’t break my neck.
I fixed the bike and struggled on. The last part of the stage was like hell – sand with vegetation, and rain and hail. But I made it to the finish, after 12 hrs as 121st.
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Posted by Sis Eila
Annie finished with position 54. This stage with over 380 Km of special seems to be one of the more difficult ones, including difficult terrains and a navigation.
At the Bivouac in Neuquen after stage 4:
Annie told she had some problems with the engine start and her motorbike stopped. She asked a couple of drivers to help her, but they were also extremely tired. She lost more than one hour because of this technical problem, although she was riding very well – she said. “I will never gain back this hour” she said…
Annie also explained me how dangerous it is to overtake in the sand. Every time by overtaking, motorbike drivers put their life at stake. It’ s a real challenge.
I arrived in the bivouac of Neuquen, and still have no information about the race and on how Annie is doing. Fingers crossed this stage has no unexpected surprises for her.
“The big delay on this stage was because I helped a crashed biker (he then must quit the rally). Before this I was ranked 35. Probably I’ll get back the lost time.”
/ Note by Sis Eila
Annie was in good shape yesterday when she explained me how the track of the 3rd stage was. A lot of wind and a lot of sand in the beginning. Then in Patagonia the wind stopped and the track became very fast. She started in position 93, and finished at 54. She was happy and in good state of mind. After she made her roadbook and eat something, she went to bed immerdiately as the night before she only had 4 hours of sleep.
Annie at the end of stage 2 in Puerto Madryn, at the Iritrack service.
During this stage she crashed some of here instrumentation and had to replace it. The track was dusty and dangerous, she decided not to risk anything. But she missed a speed control. Then she fell some 15 times in the fesh-fesh. It is super soft sand making thick whirling clouds – can’t see a thing! A great risk to run down each other, which can be fatal. Lost very much time. She’s a little disappointed finishing only 90th, yet happy not to be among the many who already must quit the rally.
/ Posted by Sis Eila
Starting with Monday 5th, Eurosport Sweden will post daily short interviews taken at the Bivouac during all the duration of the race. As soon as we will have more information we will let you know.
I met Annie this afternoon immediately after she arrived to the bivouac. Her position after SS1 was no.41. She said she wasn’t very happy with herself. She mentioned she did too many mistakes. Many People cheering, many 90 degrees fast turns. Because she was late this morning at the start, and lost some additional time refueling, she got caught by the dust cloud of the competitors. “Tomorrow is another day” she said. I could see the frustration on her face, but I’m sure tomorrow she will be happier.
A chaotic morning. Short of time on the liasion because of trouble at the fuel station. So I started as 110 instead of 93. I overtook many riders in all the dust. It’ was very dangerous, couldn’t see anything. Many others had accidents.
But I had a good flow and the engine is strong. Several top bikers damaged the tyres, but I had no problems. Though the oil pressure worried me. Luckily I found the reason: a hose was squeezed, so I fixed it.
A very good rally start: finished as 41!
/ Posted by Sis Eila
Everything is always hectic before the start. From the tech scrutineering in le havre my exhaust was to noicy, so i had to order en new silencer from KTM and bring it to Buenos Aires. Befor tech control her I had to pass admin control and get all the stamps in the control bookelt when passing all checks for documents etc. i was all ok until i had to show my racing license… where had i put it. i had it in my racing folder before at home in sweden and now it was gone. track back in my mind… oh no, i forgot it in the scanner at home because i scanned it as back up on to a usb stick, and then forgot the original in the scanner. disaster, because no license = no start! luckily my sister could go to myplace and send it from my computer to my hotmail, and then i could show my mail to the licens controllant…
after this i had to pass the exhaust check. the new silencer was within the new regulation of 96 db and was mounted with an extra “pacifier plug” to make it even more silent. downside on the plug was that the engine felt very tired. so i took the chance of running it without the plug and test if i could pass – and i did. so now i have the right sound and right power!
after this i parked the bike in the “parc ferme” outside in the big “Dakar City” festival area. big crouds of 80.000 meeting and greeting as i passed on the bike.
in the evening i was invited to the KTM pressmeeting with the official factory team, all superstars Cyril Despres, Marc Coma, Jordi Villaoms and Alain Duclos. And me! We answered questions from newspapers and mingled with guests. I felt proud to be invited to this event.
on friday we have the riders briefing at 11, and at 16 the ceremonial start at the podium will take place. Annie