2011 Dakar Rally: Honda Europe Start Report

2011 Dakar Rally

The Honda 450 Dakar X holds is right at the sharp end of things, piloted by American Quinn Cody, as he rides with the elite in the 2011 Dakar Rally in Argentina.

It proved about right for the rally organizers to award start number 15 to him at the 33rd Dakar Rally, for that is close to his result on the first special stage.

The day started with a long and laborious road section of 566 kilometers. The Dakar Honda riders were up first thing in the morning.

After the liaison, at 10 o’clock the Dakar 2011 really started when Marc Coma opened the special. The first 90 kilometers was flat out and very fast, followed by a more technical section, which was narrow and therefore separated from the cars and trucks.

Amongst the Team Honda Europe riders opinions about the day were divided. Quinn Cody was satisfied with his 13th place in his first Dakar special aboard the Honda, but Mirjam Pol wasn’t happy at all with her performance.

Quinn requested minor adjustments to the Honda suspension. Stiffer damping in front delivers more downward force on the rear wheel under hard braking, just what is needed to avoid the rear end sliding. In addition, the rebound damping at the rear was set a touch softer, as to provide maximum ground contact for the same reason on the Honda.

Technician Marcel Bulten keeps records of any and every adjustment made, so Quinn can compare adjustments with previous ones and with actual behavior of the Honda in the Dakar Rally.

Another such adjustment is replacing the rear sprocket with a slightly larger one, so Quinn will be able to accelerate even faster. Top speed was recorded at 157 km/h off-road today, but Quinn feels he can gain overall time by improving his acceleration, even if the bike should lose a few KPH at the top.

Alexey Naumov was happy with his preliminary 85th ranking Monday, for he plans to build his rally gradually. Staying upright while others make costly mistakes is his goal for the first few stages.

A timing anomaly did drop him to 162th position on published Dakar results but once this was rectified he was re-instated to the his original and correct position of 85th. Fellow team mate, Vadim Pritulyak, was just two places behind teammate Naumov in 88th

Quinn Cody (Team Honda Europe) says: "I had a good test day. It was a day with a lot of adjustments. Getting adjusted to the bike, the navigation, the speed zones, everything all together. Navigation wasn’t difficult, the first part was flat out.

"I didn’t know exactly how the bike would react, but the bike was good. The dust was ok, it was a good day of testing. I did have to get used to the speedzones, I was hard on the brakes a few times. Now some more small adjustments to the suspension and the position of the roadbook and I’m ready for the second day."

Mirjam Pol (Team Honda Europe) says: "I had to get used to the bike, but I haven’t been on a bike for some time and as the first part was very fast it wasn’t easy. After 23 kilometers I already saw the first crashed biker and I said to myself, not for me this time.

"With the technical section things got even worse, it was a hard day. But just 5 kilometers before the finish I got overtaken by Annie Seel, apparently she had a fuel problem with her bike. We finished in place 101st and 102nd so that wasn’t even that bad."

Vadim Pritulyak (Team Honda Europe) says: "In the technical section my wrist was getting sore, an old injury from last year. I decided to slow down a bit in the second part, as I realized this was only the first day in the Dakar."