Dakar: Honda Europe Stage 5 Report

2011 Dakar Rally

All four Team Honda Europe Dakar riders safely made it to the bivouac at Iquique, Chile, Thursday afternoon in good spirits. The final slope from the dunes downwards led practically into the bivouac, so the assistance crew had a nice spectacle put on right before their eyes.

Three out of four Team Honda Europe Dakar riders came in without major damage to their machines. The usual scratches are not counted.

Vadim Pritulyak kept his mechanic Gerrit Polsvoort happy by taking more corporal punishment himself than allowing his Honda to suffer. Both team physiotherapist Luuc Botter and Pritulyak’s son Vlad (short for Vladislav) take care of the countless bruises of father Vadim.

In the meantime, Gerrit had requested an official to check the Sentinel horn on the Dakar bike, for Vadim had experienced problems hearing this safety equipment warning for fast cars and trucks that wish to overtake.

Gerrit had excluded other electric malfunctions beforehand, so the check was quite simple. The official grabbed a new horn from his backpack and it was quickly mounted so Vadim should be, if not less sore himself, more secure on tomorrow’s stage.

Thursday was the first of several tough Dakar stages scheduled. After a cold night in Calama the first Dakar bike left the bivouac at 06.40 for just a short liaison. The special was 423 kilometers long and quit a few competitors will remember the day that they had to abandon the Dakar 2011.

Top ten Dakar riders Olivier Pain had to give up with a broken wrist, David Casteu was 115th today with a broken gearbox and lost a lot of time. Quinn Cody lost some time today with a 22nd place in today’s stage (15th overall).

Quinn has caused his mechanic Marcel Bulten more work by performing a highsider. This is typically unintended maneuver, if the intentional sideways sliding rear wheel suddenly finds grip.

The Dakar Honda and its rider flip over under influence of inertia. The bike suffered, bending the handlebar and muffler. Also, the navigational equipment twisted on its mounts and the fairing didn’t appear at its ‘fairest’ any longer!

Quinn quickly checked in the special stage, but no fluids were leaking so he continued on. It took him 5 to 10 minutes working on the bike to get going again.

Alexey Naumov made it to the finish with no fuel left. The bike stalled going down the big dune before the finish. It was the same day as today in the Dakar 2010 that Mirjam Pol had a terrible day. She crashed hard which in the end made her give up after the rest day.

Thursday was a good day for Mirjam, who had a scary moment in the road section when she almost crashed into a Nissan pick-up which wasn’t paying attention. Vadim Pritulyak is in survival mode. He had a battery problem, which made him use the kickstart of his bike. Not very convenient in the dunes, where he had to pick up his bike several times after falling down and using a lot of energy getting it started again.

Quinn Cody (Team Honda Europe Dakar) says: "After the crash I just rode in. I injured my right thumb, the nail is black and blue. After the finish it started to hurt quite a bit. The last section was hard, because my air-filter was clogged with silt and it was hard to get the bike through the dunes. It was a tough stage. Tomorrow will be tougher, we’ll see how it goes with my thumb ”

Alexey Naumov (Team Honda Europe Dakar) says: "It was my own mistake, I didn’t take enough fuel at the fuel stop. Until kilometer 350, I was fine, overtaking some people. The fesh-fesh however was terrible. The navigation in the dune section was new for me. I lost 20 to 30 minutes looking for a waypoint. I learn every day, it’s a hard race. The guys at the front are very strong. Not just physically, but also mentally.”

Mirjam Pol (Team Honda Europe Dakar) says: "The first 200 kilometers were terrible, I wouldn’t send my worst enemy over these tracks. At kilometer 380 I got really angry with the organization as they promised us dunes, and we hadn’t seen any so far. But not much later the dune section started.

"Ten kilometers long, and I got through ok. I followed one of the fast riders who had gotten behind onto a big dune, but where he went over, I got stuck… It was a dangerous stage so I didn’t take any risks.”

Vadim Pritulyak (Team Honda Europe Dakar) says: "It was dangerous today. Many holes, ditches, I saw a lot of crashed riders. My body is sore, but tomorrow is another day…"

January 6 – Dakar Stage 5 Honda Results
Road section 36 km / Special 423 km

22nd position for Quinn Cody
Total time 05:54:06 Variation 00:41:43
50th position for Alexey Naumov
Total time 06:59:14 Variation 01:46:51
99th position for Vadim Pritulyak
Total time 08:59:31 Variation 03:47:08
72th position for Mirjam Pol
Total time 07:47:45 Variation 02:35:22

Team Honda Europe Overall Dakar Standings

15th position for Quinn Cody
Total time 018:16:50 Variation 01:17:17
52nd position for Alexey Naumov
Total time 21:25:45 Variation 04:26:12
87th position for Vadim Pritulyak
Total time – Variation 08:29:55
98th position for Mirjam Pol
Total time – Variation 09:46:07

Preview: Day 6 – Arica
The exploration of the Atacama Desert this year brings the Dakar participants to Arica, the last town before the Peruvian border. For this large slice of desert before the rest day, the menu is full of dunes, whose sizes increase as the day passes by. But throughout the special stage, the riders and drivers will experience an alternation of sensations.

After surfing on the dunes, most of them will get to grips with the unavoidable zones of fesh-fesh, or "guadal" as they are known in this part of the world. For the section of slaloming between dust and dry grass, patience is the competitors’ best ally. The organization gives the competitors the time to finish until 18.00hrs the day after tomorrow.