A 7th placing in today’s Stage 7 has moved Australian Todd Smith into 15th place overall in the 2017 Dakar.
Todd finished the stage 9m39s behind stage winner, Honda’s Ricky Brabec.
Brabec’s teammate Paulo Goncalves finished the stage in second place (-1m44s), and KTM factory team rider Sam Sunderland came in third (-4m43s).
Australian privateer and Dakar rookie, Matthew Hart, was a steady 54th today and our friend Manuel Lucchese had a very good day finishing only 33m11s behind the stage winner on his Yamaha.
After today’s stage KTM’s Sam Sunderland still holds the overall lead from the Husqvarna of Pablo Quintanilla and Yamaha’s Adrien Van Beveren. Just over 22 minutes now separates the top 3.
Heavy rain and poor conditions in Bolivia continue to affect the rally, and organisers made an unprecedented change to the route during the rest day in La Paz.
A combination of the original routes of stages 6 and 7, the newly designed Stage 7 was 801 kilometres in length, nearly 200km longer than the original.
It is also the first leg of a marathon stage.
A marathon stage is effectively two stages run together as one, with competitors unable to get their machines serviced by their crews during the overnight bivouac in between.
That places pressure on the riders to conserve and protect their bikes, and the added distance will have created even more.
The ironic thing about the poor weather conditions in Bolivia is that the country has been in drought for months!
Bolivian President Evo Morales Ayma declared a state of emergency over its severity in early November.
Dakar organisers brought 50,000 litres of water from Argentina so as to not deplete Bolivia’s precious resources even further.
After the overnight stop in Uyuni, the competitors will cross the border back into Argentina and head to Salta.
Having spent days in the high altitude sections, the competitors will be back on low land and facing the many sand dunes and picturesque canyons of north-western Argentina.
You can also watch the movie Dream Racer, or buy the DVD/Blue Ray, at dreamracer.tv.
The multi-award winning movie tracks Christophe’s progress through the event and is the purest footage you’ll ever see of the Dakar.
It’s also one of the most inspiring films of all time.