Stage 2 Tuesday 16th October 2012
Helder Rodrigues, fresh from winning the first stage of the Morocco Rally, today had the difficult task of opening the track in a demanding 315 km stage, characterized by very difficult navigation and 22 kms of dunes of the Erg Chebbi to cross from south to north. A very high sun made the navigation even tougher.
The TEAM HRC rider fought hard with Marc Coma and Cyril Despres and finally finished 3rd behind despres, who claimed today’s stage, in front of Coma and Rodigues. Helder Rodrigues is third in the General Classification, just 51 seconds behind the leader Cyril Despres.
Felipe Zanol, 8 times Brazilian Enduro Champion and 5 times Brazilian Cross Country Champion, rode consistently, focusing on navigation and getting experience in the high dunes of Merzouga. In his debut on the African terrain, Felipe finished in the top ten and is 10th in the overall classification.
A very good day for the 23-year old Sam Sunderland. His 14th finishing position in SS2 doesn’t show his real race result as his start was complicated by a technical issue that made him lose almost 30 minutes. Sam race pace would have assured him a top 5 finish.
The 3 times Rally Argentinian Champion Javier Pizzolito continued making experience on the new Honda machine focusing on navigation in preparation of the Dakar 2013. He finished 14th, 12th in the overall classification.
Starting in 39th position, due to a 1h30 penalty for having missed 3 way points in SS1, Johnny Campbell recovered 19 positions, finishing 20th, after an accurate navigation in the dunes and a fast ride in the final hard, rocky tracks, familiar to the 11 times Baja 1000 winner.
The Stage. Liaison: 27 kms – selective sector: 315 kms– Liaison: 17 kms
The rally starts to get tough with a very demanding second stage that sees first a navigated part of fast, rocky track before arriving to the big dunes of Merzouga. The riders will cross the dunes for 22 kms from south to north, for the whole length of the Erg. Riding into the wind will represent an extra challenge. Afterwards the riders will finish on the same route as the start of yesterday’s stage with open track and several dangers. Moreover the route will be much more damaged after the passage of yesterday’s competitors.
Helder Rodrigues, 3rd in SS2 – 3rd in overall classification +0’.51: “It was a very demanding day and opening the track crossing 22 kms of dunes, without any references except your road book is quite tough. The first part of the stage was fast and very navigated, then I had a hard job opening the track in the dunes with a very high sun and finally, in the last 100 kms we had a very good fight with Marc in the oued, like in a motocross race. In general, I’m satisfied with today’s result, I started first and crossed the finish line first. The CRF 450 RALLY is working really well, my congratulations to Honda for having worked hard to give me such a good machine in 4 months of work”.
Felipe Zanol 10th in SS2, 10th in overall classification +33’26: “It was a good day for me, I rode consistently and I feel more comfortable with the navigation. It was a very difficult stage for navigation with many points where it was easy to make mistakes, especially when we came across yesterday’s traces as the final part of the stage was the same backwards as yesterday’s initial part of the stage. I made the most of the 22 km on the dunes, gaining experience”.
Sam Sunderland 14th in SS2 – 12th in the overall classification +40’41: “my body was still sore from yesterday’s crash and I lost almost 30 minutes at the very beginning due to technical issues. This is why my final position didn’t reflect my performance. I’m very happy with how I rode today. It was a very navigated stage and when we crossed the dunes the sun was so high that it was difficult to see. I’m very happy with my Honda, the handling is very good and it is also very manoeuvrable which helps us a lot”.
Javier Pizzolito 17th in SS2 – 14th in the overall classification +57’37: “It was a positive stage. I rode focusing on the road book and tried not to follow the traces. I was a bit slower but I preferred to make my way and gain more experience in navigation in preparation for the Dakar, which is our priority and where I hope we can get a good result as a team”.
Johnny Campbell 20th in SS2 – 24th in the overall classification +2h36’56: “I started back in the group because of the 1h30’ penalty for having missed 3 way points, but I was able to recover many positions. I focused on the road book and I think I made no particular mistakes. I enjoyed the stage a lot, especially the last 100 kms which were rocky, fast and many berms like in a Baja”.
Katsumi Yamazaki, TEAM HRC LPL: “The CRF 450 Rally is progressing well and today we had the opportunity to test it in the 22 km of dunes. The air temperature was a bit higher than yesterday (50°C) but the machine is responding well in terms of temperature, engine drivability and handling both on rocky hard terrains and soft dunes”.
Photos by AP PhotoSport