It’s been five days since hundreds of competitors set off in their cars, trucks, HGVs, quads and motorbikes to tackle the Saudi Arabian desert in quest of becoming the 2020 Dakar Rally winner. We’re recapping the action from the last week right here…
Thousands of KMs covered so far
All classes have been battling it out on the same playing field to become the next Dakar champion but it’s not an easy feat. With hundreds of kilometres to travel each day in rough terrain isn’t easy, especially for the bike class.
Riders have found themselves mixed up with trucks and cars whilst racing up sand dunes or avoiding hidden dangers ahead. There’s been tumbles, broken bones and damaged bikes to match, but that’s the least of your worries when taking on Dakar. You’ve got to watch out for wildlife, hidden holes and dramatic changes in weather and altitude too – oh and don’t get lost either!
Slips, trips and tumbles
It’s not surprised, especially those in the bike category, that there’s been some accidents so far. It’s a dangerous game taking part in the Dakar Rally and not a decision made lightly by those racing, there’s the risk of never returning home at all.
Hewitt climbs the leaderboard
Devitt sponsor Simon Hewitt is taking on his first ever Dakar challenge this year, the 29-year-old started off in 132nd position, even though he’s faced his own trials and tribulations, he now sits in 109th!
Hewitt recaps on his first ever day riding at Dakar:
“The stage itself was pretty varied, from gnarly rocky canyons to open flowing dunes and everything in between. Being only the third day of riding I’ve done since my collarbone operations in October, I decided to take it easy and just ride at trail riding pace. It was also my first time riding my new Yamaha WR450F rally bike, prepared by Drag’on rally team. What a machine, I can’t wait to ride it again tomorrow.”
Day two showed the true nature of the Dakar Rally:
Had a couple of ‘moments’ while sitting in dust and hitting rocks I couldn’t see, the dents in the wheels don’t look too bad though. This evening I spent some time working on the bike; tyres, filters, general nut and bolt check. It all looks good so I’m ready for more tomorrow.”
Day three saw issues with his bike, Hewitt said:
“My day started off in the worst possible way, my bike ground to a halt 200m off the start line. I switched from the rear to the front fuel tanks and it seemed to work until 25km later. I started taking bits off the bike to look into what the problem was but it somehow seemed to fix itself, I tried starting it again and it fired up. I suspect that something was blocking the injector but with a few clear outs of the throttle the engine ate it and spat it out the other end.”
Day four showed how brutal Dakar can be on the body:
“Today was brutal, not just because of how long the stage was but the technicality of the terrain. There was one section of about 50km which was entirely rocky, my hands and back were in pieces by the end. To finish there was around 80km of off-piste deep sand through huge rocky outcrops, which was fun to ride but just felt like it was never going to end.”
Day five was a cold start in the Arabian desert for all…
“It was so cold this morning, which sounds ridiculous for Saudi Arabia but I just couldn’t get warm, I had so many layers on! The first part of the special was okay, my hands and back were sore from the day before so just took it easy. The rest of the stage was all sand and you couldn’t be lazy with your technique so it was really hard work. There were huge drop-offs and patches of rock-hard camel grass everywhere.”
There’s still one more day of racing ahead before a much needed rest day on Saturday for all competitors. Day six will see a distance of 830km covered, including a 478km special stage, before reaching Riyadh, hopefully before night fall!