At the halfway point of the 2010 Dakar Rally, Canadian rider Patrick Trahan finds himself in 63 position overall, finishing today’s 600km special—the longest in the rally—02:32:15 adrift of stage 7 winner and overall leader, Cyril Despres.
No mean feat for the Montreal native, who started the race 7 days ago with 160 other riders (4 compatriots among them), a field that has now dwindled to 90 and left Trahan the only Canadian competing in any of the categories.
Lawrence Hacking, the first Canadian to ever complete the Dakar on a motorcycle (2001), tried to duplicate the feat in a four-wheeler this year with co-driver Christian Girouard of Ottawa, but the two had to bow out almost immediately after mechanical failure struck their Mason Motorsports Prorunner and they weren’t able to repair it in time.
The deep icing sugar-like dunes and extreme temperatures of stage 3 took a heavy overall toll this year at Dakar and proved too much for Canadian riders Don Hatton, Rick Hatswell, Andrew Scott and Dirk Kessler (a San Francisco based Canuck we missed previously due to Dakar officials listing him as American). An excerpt from Hatton’s blog gives an idea of the brutal and dangerous conditions the riders encountered:
For hours, Don had been struggling axle deep in the white sand dunes east of La Rioja, Argentina in 45 degree Celsius temperatures. The combination of poor engine performance brought on by bad fuel, fatigue from the heat and the lingering affects of the food poisoning meant that riding the steep dunes was almost impossible. Riding with fellow Dakar racer Duncan Tweedy, they were both overcome with heat issues. They were provided water from passing participants in cars and trucks to help them cope with their situation.
Passing race medical officials advised them both not to proceed; “You will die in the dunes”, they urged, adding that there were no helicopters available as they were all busy trying to evacuate other competitors from the dunes. Not encouraging news considering their location and physical condition.
Still suffering from the dehydration due to food poisoning that he endured on stage two of the rally, Don took the advice of race officials and withdrew from the rally. He was one of 20 motorcyclists, nearly 15% of the entrants, to retire from the race Monday.
As for the frontrunners, the top two KTM riders continue to dominate, with Spaniard Marc Coma finishing a close second today, trailing Despres’ by only 29 seconds and moving into second overall. Despres though still maintains a healthy cushion of 1:06:50 over his arch rival.
Speaking of rivalry, German broadcaster Eurosport reports that Dakar officials are investigating whether Coma made an illegal wheel change during today’s stage, after Despres’ camp complained the Spaniard’s rear tire looked far too fresh at the end of the gruelling 600 km journey. The 2009 Dakar champion reportedly stormed off to his hotel without comment.
Saturday, competitors get a well deserved rest, before resuming on Sunday, as the 7 remaining stages take them back to the finish line in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where Patrick Trahan hopes arrive in aboard his Honda CRF 450X on January 16 and collect his finisher’s medal.
Keep checking back for more news on Trahan’s 2010 Dakar Rally odyssey and watch the video below for a stage 7 motorcycle recap.
2010 Dakar Rally Stage 7 Results
1. DESPRES (FRA) KTM 06:34:14 00:00:00
2. COMA (ESP) KTM 06:34:43 00:00:29
3. FRETIGNE (FRA) YAMAHA 06:39:14 00:05:00
4. FARIA (PRT) KTM 06:43:24 00:09:10
5. ULLEVALSETER (NOR) KTM 06:45:24 00:11:10
6. PELLICER (ESP) YAMAHA 06:48:21 00:14:07
7. PEDRERO GARCIA (ESP) KTM 06:50:59 00:16:45
8. BERGLUND (SWE) KTM 06:52:52 00:18:38
9. PAIN (FRA) YAMAHA 06:56:10 00:21:56
10. SVITKO (SVK) KTM 07:00:40 00:26:26
2010 Dakar Rally Overall Standings
1. DESPRES (FRA) KTM 28:10:13 00:00:00
2. COMA (ESP) KTM 29:17:03 01:06:50
3. RODRIGUES (PRT) YAMAHA 29:30:21 01:20:08
4. ULLEVALSETER (NOR) KTM 29:36:05 01:25:52
5. LOPEZ CONTARDO (CHL) APRILIA 29:41:17 01:31:04
6. DUCLOS (FRA) KTM 30:00:19 01:50:06
7. FRETIGNE (FRA) YAMAHA 30:16:10 02:05:57
8. STREET (USA) KTM 30:16:41 02:06:28
9. PEDRERO GARCIA (ESP) KTM 30:35:56 02:25:43
10. PELLICER (ESP) YAMAHA 30:36:35 02:26:22