Ha’il, Saudi Arabia – 08/01/2021
“To finish first, first you must finish.”
It’s an old saying that’s been thrown around motorsport, and many other sports, for years. And it is so true of the Dakar rally.
This event is known as the toughest motorsport event in the world, and for good reason.
As promised by the organisers, Stage 6 was yet another tough day for the competitors.
And our rookie riders at the Coca-Cola Nomadas Adventure team – #35 Pablo Guillen and #62 Andrew Houlihan – are staying focused on the goal of completing the rally in one piece. That, in itself, is a tough gig.
Andrew feels it’s a good thing they cut 100km off today’s special or many riders would not of made it.
The special was full of dunes again, and big ones. And they were relentless.
Andrew stopped at one point on top of a big dune for a breather and to take in the 360° view.
“All I could see was dunes as far as the eye could see. How the hell am I gonna get out of here?”
He had a couple of minor crashes today, one just 10 minutes into the special when he came over a dune too slow and the front wheel sank.
“Over the bars I went”, he said retelling the story. “The fall was hard enough to set off my air vest, which I felt was going to choke me.”
He lost about 30 minutes while he took his gear off, deflated the vest, and replaced the cartridge. But it also gave him a bit of recovery time.
“And then after CP2 I was jumping over a dune, landed awkwardly and was thrown off the bike.”
After that he decided to dial it down a bit and just get through the stage.
“I’m not here for a podium finish!”
Andrew rode large sections alone today which he preferred because he could just set his own pace.
“Navigation was not a problem and the bike ran well,” he told the team.
And after the gruelling time on the bike today, he’s happy with where he’s currently placed in the field.
After starting 55th this morning and losing about 20 places after his first incident, he regained some positions and his final placing for the day was 67th.
Teammate Pablo Guillen started from 71st but consistently worked his way back through the field and was placed 57th by the end of the stage.
Pablo and Andrew are now 60th and 61st in the overall standings.
At the head of the field Toby Price has taken the overall lead again after his 7th place today.
Fellow KTM factory team rider Daniel Sanders secured his second stage podium of the rally coming in 3rd today. He’s now 12th overall.
Despite being hit with 29 minutes in penalties today, Michael Burgess still holds onto his 38th position in the general rankings.
And there was some good news regarding Ashish Raorane today. Ashish, who rode with the team in the Africa ECO Race this time last year, was taken to hospital yesterday after a crash. He visited the team today after spending the night in hospital under observation for concussion, but is all well.
With the rest day tomorrow the Nomadas team are a bit more relaxed tonight. The first six days have been tough, and everyone’s looking forward to a little bit of downtime.
That’s everyone except for mechanic Jakob who will be busy replacing the clutch, chain, sprockets and doing the usual service and tyre change on the team bikes.
Stage 7 is the marathon stage, so there will be no support team and no service at the end of the day for the riders.