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Fri 01 February 2019

Dakar 2019: stunning rally in Peru

Peru welcomed the 41st edition of the Dakar Rally with the start and, after 10 punishing stages, the finish in Lima. 6 HT Rally Raid riders passed the starting podium at the 6th of January in front of thousands of enthusiastic Peruvians. As already introduced, our 2019 team had mainly Dutch riders with our female rider Mirjam Pol, and the rookies Marcel Piek, Paul Spierings and the oldest biker of 2019, Martien Jimmink. Two South American riders completed the team: the rider from San Juan, Puchi Ontiveros, and our Mexican Carlos Gracida. With 3 mechanics, a driver and spare parts manager, a logistical and assistant team manager, and the team manager, the assistance team with 6 people, 1 spare parts truck, the hospitality truck and the Mercedes Sprinter, was also ready for the start.

Puchi Ontiveros

A stunning route of 5000 km of which 2500 km special stage with a lot of feshfesh and dunes was waiting for the riders. Directly after the start, the battlefield began and already at the first special of only 81 km, the first riders had to abandon. Our riders did really well, came in without big damages and were ready for the 2nd day of 342 kilometres special. That the rally was tricky and accidents happen easily, was proven by Martien Jimmink during stage 3 where he crashed after 30 kms in a special with a total length of 331 kms. He managed to finish, but it was easy to see he had a really tough day. All riders finally arrived in the bivouac after dark and a really cold liaison of more than 200 kms at an altitude over 2500 meters. They jumped into the hospitality truck straight away, to get a hot shower and enjoy the heater over there.

Carlos Gracida

 

The mechanics worked all night to fully prepare the bikes for the marathon stage starting the next morning. Hard work payed off and our riders did really well those days. Even Martien managed to finish both marathon days and we were happy we could bring the 6 riders to the hotel for a well-deserved night rest over there. For our malle motor rider Max Hunt, currently leading the malle moto class at stage 5, the marathon stage was the end of the rally. He experienced that the Dakar is still a game of man AND machine. Due to a small mistake in the assembly of his air filter he got sand in the engine and had to quit the rally.  

Marcel Piek

 

After a good sleep in the hotel, the other riders could only enjoy a shortened rest day this 2019 edition: they had to leave the bivouac at 5pm to ride to a bivouac about 200 kms ahead… at that moment, they did not know how hard day 6 would be. Right after the start, the competitors had to tackle the fearsome dunes of Tanaka, the toughest dune sector in the rally. Afterwards, they came into the slightly easier dunes of Acari and a small detour on the beach of Puerto de Lomas. The final showdown took place on the Duna Grande and Duna Argentina sequence, which were not as difficult as the dunes of Tanaka but came at the end of a gruelling stage. An enormous focus was crucial to make it to the finish! A finish line which should only be reached 5 of our 6 riders. Stage 6 would become, sadly enough, the end point for our rider Marcel Piek, he had a crash and was unconsciousness for a while, where after the medicals decided to take him to hospital for further checks. Luckily, nothing really bad was found and, while writing this, Marcel is already almost fully recovered. Where Marcel experienced bad luck, Paul Spierings had some real good luck. He hit a hidden stone, ‘kissed the roadbook’, as he told us afterwards and had a crash resulting in a scratched nose, bruised eye and sore knee, but was able to finish stage 6 and start again in stage 7.

Paul Spierings

 

Bikes were still perfect, riders did great and they managed to finish day 7, day 8 and even day 9. It was even more sand and dunes in those days than before and the riders liked it. And then…it was time for the final stage! Once more full focus, because this was not an easy ride to the finish line, as could be seen by the horrible crash of Pablo Quintanilla, but our riders made it to the finish line!

Mirjam Pol

 

Only 75 motorbikes out of 150 starters reached the finish line in Lima. For the trucks, this was only ten out of 41, which shows how tough this ten-days Dakar was. We are glad 5 riders did the fabulous job to make it to the finish line: the best Dutch Dakar rider in 2019 was Paul Spierings on a 27th position. Puchi Ontiveros did a great job by finishing 31st, while Mirjam became the 2nd woman at position 48. Carlos finished one position after Mirjam and became 49th. Martien Jimmink completed the rally as 72nd and is thereby the oldest Dutch motorbike rider who ever finished the Dakar. HT Rally Raid team looks back at a great Dakar with stunning routes, a great team and amazing riders. Now the time has come to look ahead to our next goals: the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and Merzouga Rally from 31-5th of April, the Silk Way Rally from 6-16th of july, and the Rally du Maroc from the 3rd till the 9th of October.

 

 

Martien Jimmink

 

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