2021 Dakar Rally Update – Stage 2

Wadi Ad-Dawasir, Saudi Arabia – 04/01/2021

It was an early start for the Coca-Cola Nomadas Adventure team this morning with a wake up call at 4:30 am. But that becomes pretty normal during a Dakar – Andrew had a start time of 6:05 am.

Rally organisers had said that riders would spend most of their time in sand today and have their first encounter with the famous Saudi Arabian dunes.

So it wasn’t surprising that riders were straight into dunes about 100m high just 5 km into the special stage. Andrew found himself stuck twice on the top of a dune but was able to push over the top and only lost about 30 seconds on each.

“The second lot of dunes later in the day were bigger but I seemed to glide over them without much trouble”, Andrew said at the end of the day. 

The sand was endless all through the special, and if it wasn’t dunes it was soft spongy flat sand that wouldn’t allow the bike to get over 140km/h.

He managed to maintain a consistent pace throughout the day, finishing the stage and 67th position.

However he missed a waypoint before CP3.

“I realised about a kilometre on and wanted to back track. It was a narrow track and officials said it was too dangerous as trucks were starting to come through”, Andrew told the team. 

“Do you want the time or death”, they said to me.

“Thinking back to the crash in Hellas 2018 I decided taking on a truck was not worth the risk.”

“I’m here to finish, not break records or bones.”

Andrew received a five minute penalty as a result of missing the waypoint.

He now sits in 68th position overall.

Andrew said his KTM 450RFR didn’t miss a beat all day, and seem to have less issues dealing with other competitors.

“Only about 10 cars and 4 trucks passed me all day but they sure left their mark, I have a nice bruise on my right arm from a rock!”

Andrew’s teammate Pablo Guillen also had a good day.

Despite dropping some time early in the stage, Pablo worked his way back to finish 63rd in the stage.

In terms of overall standings, Pablo is sitting 63rd. Yes, that does just happen to match with his position at the end of the second stage!

After a long day in the sand Andrew arrived at the bivouac at about 4:30 pm feeling remarkably fresh. The temperatures have been kind to the competitors so far, minimums of 10° and highs of around 25°.

Andrew’s fellow Australian competitors had mixed days.

Red Bull KTM rider Toby Price finished the day 32 minutes behind stage winner and now overall leader Joan Barreda after having fuel issues. He is now down in 15th position overall but says he isn’t too concerned by that at this stage of the event.

KTM factory rider Daniel Sanders is sitting in 18th position just 21 minutes and 11 seconds down.

And in his first ever Dakar Rally, Michael Burgess is sitting in 42nd position.

Stage 3 takes riders on a loop starting and finishing in Wadi Ad-Dawasir, with a 403km special stage.