NEW YEAR ... DAKAR OR BUST!
9am, Monday morning, January 4, 2010 ... it's time to get back to work. Don't ya just hate it?!
But hey, look on the bright side, the start of a new year means it's the start of a new Dakar Rally ... woo flippin' hoo!
And all the action of the 2010 Dakar Rally is already clicking top gear and hammering, and we've got no less than four Aussie dirt bike riders to cheer on, as well as legend Bruce Garland and his navigator Hiroaki Suzuki in their Isuzu truck (if you've got an interest in things with four tyres and a steering wheel).
The Aussie moto contingent in this year's Dakar includes WA hard men Rob Pollard (pictured on the start: KTM 690 Rally) and Garry Connell (Husaberg 570), Christophe Barrier Vaju (KTM Rally) and Canadian-based Aussie Andrew Scott (KTM).
The mega-event fired into life over the past weekend and the huge field of moto, auto and truck entries has set off on a punishing 9,000km course that will see them traverse the most inhospitable regions of Chile and Argentina over the next two weeks.
Of course this year's Dakar has not been without its share of controversy in the moto division, after organisers decreed a 450cc capacity limit on the two-wheel entries -- much to the chagrin of KTM, the most dedicated of longtime Dakar supporters.
The new capacity rule came as a major shock, and KTM promptly withdrew its support of the event, but then relinquished. So Team KTM heavy-hitters such as Marc Coma and Cyril Despres are there again this year -- albeit with restrictors placed in the inlet tracts of their thundering 690 Rally Kato factory bikes, in an effort to 'equalise' their performance with 450cc machines.
Has limiting the factory 690s worked?
Well, the first competitive stage saw David Casteu take the stage win -- on a Sherco 450! Admittedly he was just three seconds quicker than Coma, and only 12 seconds up on Despres, but perhaps this is an indication the 450s may well be in the hunt for outright honours. Although the field is yet to hit the punishing sand dunes that might well see the pendulum swing back in favour of the 690s.
Either way, it promises to be a riveting confrontation -- and one that has us glued to the Web and SBS TV and Foxsports to take in all the action.
The daily TV highlights packages of the Dakar Rally have already fired up on SBS and Foxsports, while there's a feast of online information, results and live timing to be gleaned from the official www.dakar.com web site.
Another ripper web site to follow is:
This is the site of freelance Aussie journalist Jacob Black, who is 'on assignment' in South America and chasing the event from the seat of a Fiat renta-car and logging daily bulletins.
Jacob clearly knows his way around a keyboard and tape recorder and his Blog is already home to a number of updates detailing the progress and preparation of the Aussie riders in the event. Bookmark Jacob's site now -- and then punch him an email thanking him for all his efforts.
There's also a feast of Dakar info in the forums on the www.advrider.com web sites, so have a gander at that and burn up a few hours on the boss's dime if you're stuck back at work and would rather be anywhere else right now.
Ride on and long live the Dakar!
-- Clubby, www.trailzone.com.au
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