Stage 11: La Rioja - Fiambala
Link Section: 256 km - Special: 221 km – Link section: 6 km - Total: 483 km
After the infernal heat of La Rioja, we expected worse at Fiambala but a welcome spell of rain arrived to cool things down. The motorcyclists left the bivouac at La Rioja at 5h30 to tackle the Special in the morning chill. The rain-soaked sand was firm but the rios were swollen...
Helder Rodrigues (Honda) was the fastest at the start but Chaleco made up time and was in second place at WP4, leaving Cyril Després 4' behind. At km 33, Ivan Jakes of Slovakia, who was sixth yesterday, left a nice trail in the sand… but not in the right direction. Quite a few riders charged after him including some of the heavy hitters, leaving Umbert Okumura of Peru out in front at km 51.
Further on, at km 198, Helder Rodrigues (Honda) was brought to a standstill with fuel feed problems.
Joan Barreda (Husqvarna), who rode at 2 km/h to let Després catch him at the start of the Special, had dirt on his goggles and fell into the mud while crossing a rio. He already had a cracked wrist, but a sharp pain in the shoulder forced him to turn back to see the medics at the bivouac.
The Special was won by Kurt Caselli (KTM), who navigated very well for a rookie. Paolo Gonçalves (Husqvarna) hit the gas in the stones and had a rocky ride but held on hard. The Portuguese rider came in second ahead of Després (KTM), Pedrero (KTM) and Chaleco Lopez (KTM).
Després is still top of the leader board with a 13' lead over his « water carrier » Ruben Faria, and just 18’ ahead of Chaleco Lopez.
In Quad, the Stage was won by Australia’s Paul Smith ahead of Gaston Gonzalez of Argentina and Marcos Patronelli, who is still on top overall with a lead of 1h50 over Ignacio Casale.
Tomorrow will be the last really sandy Special, in the Atacama desert… Chaleco will be on home turf. So watch this space….
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