Stage 7: Riyadh to Al Dawadimi
Today’s stage was from Riyadh to Al Dawadimi, a total of 710 km with 401 km of special stage.
With Andrew Houlihan (#62 – KTM) out of the 2022 Dakar Rally, the Nomadas Adventure Coca-Cola team is now down to 2 riders – Pablo Guillen (#35 – KTM) and Greek rider Vasileios Boudros (#147 – Husqvarna). Antonio Guillen (#111 – KTM) crashed heavily on day 2 and was airlifted back to the bivouac with broken ribs.
It was a good day for both our remaining riders with Vasileios finishing in 48th position and Pablo in 73rd.
After an early start both riders left the bivouac just before 6am for the 210 km morning liaison. Pablo and Vasileios were both very tired at the end of the day – it was long and the stage was hard. There weren’t many dunes today, but plenty of rocks, stones and rutted sandy tracks.
Pablo lost his rear exhaust for the last 100 km which made the bike obnoxiously loud.
The teams packed up from the Riyadh bivouac today and began the long journey to Al Dawadimi.
Andrew Houlihan says the trip turned into an adventure in itself.
“We have our Nomadas Adventure Coca-Cola Racing truck and another Mercedes Sprinter that travel between the bivouacs. The Mercedes had some mechanical issues in Riyadh.”
“The first 75 km took us almost 4 hours with the van constantly stopping. Finding mechanical help in Saudi is not easy.”
Eventually, while the van was stopped on the side of the road, a young Saudi guy in a very expensive car stopped to assist the team, got the van going and told them to follow him to a workshop he had.
“We spent the next 4 hours at the Nofa Wildlife Safari park and Resort”, Andrew said. “It’s a massive unimaginable oasis in the middle of the dunes and perhaps the most luxurious resort I have seen anywhere in the world!”
“And while the van was being repaired we were given a tour of the resort and dined in the Italian restaurant.”
Meanwhile, out on the rally route …
Australian Daniel Sanders (#4 – GasGas) crashed on the liaison stage and was taken to hospital. Reposts are that he has broken his left wrist and elbow and he will definitely not take any further part of the rally. He was 3rd overall going into the stage.
Toby Price (#18 – KTM) took the early lead but slowed later in the special, finishing 9th.
It was Nacho Cornejo (#11 – Honda) who eventually took the stage win, and with Sam Sunderland (#3 – GasGas) and Matthias Walkner (#52 – KTM) both having days they’d probably not want to talk about, the overall leader is now Adrien Van Beveren (#42 – Yamaha).
Stage 8 begins shortly – an 830 km trek from Al Dawadimi to Wadi Ad Dawasir, with a 395 km special that will include over 200 km of continuous sand and dunes. It will be a complex and difficult stage.