Riders leave Bisha today heading to Wadi Ad-Dawasir, a town in the Dawasir valley and the homeland of the tribe of Al-Dawasir. It has a population of around 120,000 people.
Today’s riding consists of a 135km liaison followed by a 457km special stage with four checkpoints, and finally a 93km final liaison segment into Wadi Ad-Dawasir.
Fuel stops are positioned at checkpoints 1 and 2, and at the end of the special stage.
Rally organisers have told the riders that around 80% of today’s stage is sand, and to expect strong winds from CP1 to the end of the special stage. The wind is expected to make the sandy sections softer and the tracks less visible.
Competitors will also experience the famous Saudi Arabian sand dunes for the first time this year. Around 15% of the special stage is sand dunes, not the biggest they will encounter but still of a reasonable height.
Coca-Cola Nomadas Adventure rider Pablo Guillen (#35 – KTM 450RFR) received a one minute penalty yesterday for exceeding the speed limit in the liaison stage, but it didn’t have a serious impact on his positioning in the field. His start time today is 6:03:30 am.
Andrew Houlihan (#62 – KTM 450RFR) starts today at 6:05 am.
There has already been at least 5 retirements from the rally and 96 riders are expected to start today stage.
French rider Erick Blandin has had to retire from his maiden Dakar after a nasty crash 204km into yesterday’s first stage.
Willy Jobard, who was racing on a hybrid hydrogen-powered motorbike, hurt his left hip in a crash after 93km. Sadly the veteran biker has had to withdraw from the Dakar for the fifth year in a row.
And Colombian rider Jhon Trejos withdrew after hurting his right wrist in a crash at the 98km mark.
Frenchman Xavier Flick (Husqvarna), who crashed and hurt his leg yesterday has been able to continue in the rally.
You can follow Andrew and Pablo’s progress live here (https://gaps.dakar.com/2021/dakar/aso/ukie).