The 218 km first part of the Dakar 2013’s only marathon stage, won’t be remembered by the riders as a particularly special one. The stage presented no particular difficulties other than the dust and a navigation-heavy first part, and saw the riders approach the race with a calm and prudent attitude. The special test, at between 3000 and 3400 metres sea level, proved to be a test in itself. Alessandro Botturi was the best of the Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain riders, taking tenth place, which could prove crucial ahead of tomorrow’s second marathon leg.

Joan Barreda and Paulo Goncalves, who set off from behind had to put up with an enormous amount of dust throughout the day. Both chose not to take risks. Barreda finished a dust-filled day with very little overtaking, in twenty-first place, and the Portuguese rider came in twenty-sixth. Jordi Viladoms had a bad day at the office, when during the transfer he stopped at the Lama pass border crossing some 4500 metres above sea level, where for reasons of fatigue was forced to seek aid from a medical car, and was given oxygen. Jordi managed to restart and compete in the special. Matt Fish got back to the bivouac this morning after working on his bike in the neutralization zone yesterday, and headed out on the second special in the dark. Matt didn’t throw in the towel as he realises how important it’s going to be for his team- mates to have his support over the next few days.

Dakar Marathon Stage

Tonight the riders will camp out in Cachi, without the mechanics, and will thus have to do any work on their TE449RRs themselves. They set off again tomorrow at 05.50 for another long stage, which is expected to be a complicated one.

The seventh stage of the Dakar has been marred by the death of the young French rider, Thomas Bourgin, 25, involved in a fatal accident during the long transfer. Husqvarna sends condolences to the family.

The second leg of the marathon from Salta to San Miguel de Tucuman is predicted to be the toughest stage of the entire Dakar 2013. A total of 739km (461 miles) including
492 special test, which will take the form of two separate parts. After the special there will be a 228 km transfer to the camp where the riders have their rest day on the 13th January.

Alessandro Botturi : “It was a fairly calm stage, even if it was very long. I didn’t take any risks and didn’t push too much, as we were at such a high altitude and it wouldn’t have been right to overdo things. Starting out tenth suits me fine for tomorrow’s stage as it’s an important one and I want to attack.”

Paulo Goncalves.: “I tried to get past the slower riders who started ahead of me but it was really tricky.It was just too dusty and dangerous. I managed to overtake three riders, but then I decided it was better not to take any chances, and so I sat in behind the group. “

Joan Barreda: “It was impossible to overtake today in the special, because there really was so much dust. I took it easy as my hand was causing me problems and I didn’t want to mess everything up before tomorrow’s special. This evening I will take something for the swelling, because I want to be in good shape for tomorrow’s important stage.”

Stage Seven Results:

1. Caselli (USA, KTM)
2. Lopez (Chile, KTM) 1:23
3. Pain (F, Yamaha) 1:23
4. Verhoeven (NL, Yamaha) 1:30
5. Faria (P, KTM) 2:30
10. Alessandro Botturi (ITA, Husqvarna) 4:39
21. Joan Barreda (ESP, Husqvarna) 9:21
26. Paulo Goncalves (PRT, Husqvarna) 10:17
44. Matt Fish (AUS, Husqvarna) 21:11