The second half of Dakar-2017 after the rest day in La Pas started with the marathon stage. After leaving unofficial capital of Bolivia, the race crews and assistance teams divided into two parts. The first went to the SS La Pas-Uyuni, the latter headed to Argentinian Salta across Tupiza. On the bivouac in Uyuni the sportsmen will stay without mechanics and in case of any breakdowns they can rely only on themselves.
Fortuntaley, the KAMAZ crews did without technical problems. Yesterday in La Pas the race authorities shortened the SS up to 161 km and today they reduced 20 km more due to the rain. The crew of Dmitry Sotnikov had the second stage win in his race career on the Dakar Rally. Today he drove in a stable fast way and his co-pilot Ruslan Akhmadeev also helped him – he suggested to avoid one off-road section along the smoother and therefore faster route. Unfortunately the crews of Eduard Nikolaev and Airat Mardeev were more diligent to follow the roadbook and honestly passed 10 km of hard impassibility. However, it was not nesessary, as there were no control points in that place. Evgeny Yakovlev, a navigator of Eduard Nikolaev, estimated that they lost 8 minutes due to his mistake. To be fair, the trucks that started later only followed the wheel track of the first crews and therefore avoided the difficult section along the faster way.
The positions in the general classification after 7 legs are very tight: Gerard De Rooy is followed by three KAMAZ crews – Dmitry Sotnikov (+00:02:11), Eduard Nikolaev (+00:05:57), Airat Mardeev (+00:20:12). The Dutchman shows very good psychological fortitude. When he was asked after the finish if he felt the pressure of KAMAZ crews, the Iveco leader answered that he felt quite confident, it is early to relax and his crew needed to concentrate on navigation tasks. Mistakes can cost a lot.
A few words about navigation. On the current Dakar there are two popular topics among the sportsmen. The first are new WPC points – control way points to take which is a real challenge for navigators. The second are infamous Map Men. Their work consists of the following: after receiving the road book of the upcoming stage, they start brainstorming to put reference of the legend to detailed satellite maps of the area. It is clear that a co-pilot, who has additional information, orientates and understands the logics of the route better and therefore solves puzzles of the race officials better as well. Modern technologies, powerful satellite navigation systems became a real challenge for a rally-raid discipline itself and now the discipline has to give an answer to it.
All in all, today was a Russian day on Dakar. The crew of Ravil Maganov (No 378) became best in the UTV category. The best result also was achieved by Sergey Karyakin (QUAD, No 254). In the moto category Anastasiya Nifontova and Aleksandr Ivanyutn also finished well. Sergey Shikhotarov (No 380) also shows a good performance for the novice.
On the evening briefing it was announced that the tomorrow’s part of the marathon stage will be reduced for the truck category. On the route Uyuni – Salta the Argentinian part will be cut and instead of 490 km the trucks will have to drive only 174 km. The reason is usual. It is already clear that Dakar-2017 will be remembered mainly for bad weather conditions.
Dakar-2017. Truck Category. Results of the 7th stage (first 10 trucks)
4.DE ROOY +00:04:25
10.DE BAAR +00:09:18
Dakar-2017. Truck Category. General Classification after the 7th stage (first 10 trucks)
1.DE ROOY 15:52:07
6.DE BAAR +00:37:18