Left to right – Chelsea, Paul, Marianne, Simon, Linley, Natalie, Evan, Llewelyn, Don and Alex (click to enlarge).
Stage fourteen was set to be nothing more than a formality as the race is all but done. And so it proved for the majority of racers including Simon Pavey. The special stage was short and in two stages providing great spectator viewing close to Santiago, but for most the real racing was already done.
It is hard to get texts and emails from Don and Natalie at the moment, since internet access is intermittent there at best. Also there is very tight security in the hotel due to a conference of South American Presidents.
However, the bikes, truck and equipment has all been delivered to the port for return to Europe. This was the first opportunity everyone got a chance to have a really good look at Don’s bike and they were all shocked at the extensiveness of the damage. It looks like Don was very lucky to walk away from that one…or to be knocked 20 feet down the slope of the dune is closer to the truth.
Congratulations to Simon Pavey for finishing the 2013 Dakar Rally!
Francisco López was the fastest rider on today’s course, beating Ruben Faria by 29′, Joan Barreda by 37′, Hélder Rodrigues by 53′ and Juan Pedrero García by 1’25′. Nevertheless, the penalties handed down to Chaleco and Juan Pedrero García for changing their engines yesterday offer the stage win on a platter to Ruben Faria.
For these independent riders to compete and complete at all is miraculous. The professionals have the back ups, the trucks, the teams and all the support they need provided. Which is why, in the video from Day Three, Johnny Campbell is relaxing in the shadow of his bike, simply awaiting the cavalry to come and save him. Not so for the independents.
Congratulations again to Simon and also to Don for giving it his best shot. We have to find out where the lousy truck that hit him placed!!
Natalie texted that while waiting on the road for Simon to come through, an ASO helicopter landed and someone got out to tell the large crowd to move back. The road is narrow and there was not enough room for the racers as well as the spectators.
At this rate, Simon will be finished safely and the ceremonial podium is tomorrow. A bittersweet day for Don Hatton and Natalie, for sure.
Finish 1: Faria and Barreda on the virtual podium
At the moment, Ruben Faria holds the second best time at the finish of the first part of the special, 32′ behind Francisco López. Joan Barreda is third, 8′ behind the Portuguese rider. Frans Verhoeven, who was in the Top 3 at the previous checkpoints, has yet to finish.
Don and Natalie are still cheering on Don’s team mate, Simon, who is doing very well despite the fact there is an electrical issue with his bike that is affecting his road book.
Simon has not been able to properly use the road book these past four days and has had to stop and manually scroll it forward so that he can see where he is supposed to go.
Today he had to deal with flash flooding that ultimately lead to cancellation of a portion of the stage he was riding. . Simon and the support team have just crossed the Andes into Chile. They are in good spirits and they are looking forward to completion of the rally!
At the time of writing, Simon has just passed Point 4 of Stage 12. Most of the morning, it has been downhill, he has to refuel shortly before heading back up into the mountains.
Don called this morning at 8:30 to ask that I post the following:
I am deeply touched and very, very grateful to everyone who has taken the time to post the many wonderful comments on the website. Your kindness, care and concern have been a lifeline for me.
This has been the my hardest Dakar ever both physically and emotionally. Not only the sudden end to my own ride, but the death of the young Frenchman that I rode with for two days, has hit me very hard. I want you all to know that the fact that you are thinking of me and holding me in your thoughts has really helped me.
Don and Natalie and family are leaving Vina del Mar today, headed to La Serena hoping to join Simon and the crew there before the last day of rally. With luck they may make Copiapo which is on the third to last day before end of the rally in Santiago.
At this point, they are thinking they will be back in Duncan by the 27th or 28th. Natalie will be texting as they continue.
For those of you who missed the interview on Friday on CFAX, here is the interview broken into five parts.
After one day of rest, Simon Pavey, the other half of our team, starts at 3 a.m. tomorrow. At least it will be cooler as he rides than the 40 degrees they have been suffering to date. The wear and tear is beginning to tell, as Llewellyn his support guy is not feeling that well. Get better soon, Llewellyn!!