KENNY FINDS HIS WAY

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Dakar challenges can’t get SA’s Gilbert down

South Africa’s Kenny Gilbert enjoyed a mixed second day of his rookie Dakar Rally following a difficult first sector Tuesday morning, but the Husqvarna rider came back strong to move up the order, finishing 42nd on the day to remain in 40th position overall and fifth among the rookies. Gilbert started the first real challenge of Dakar 2019 — a 342km racing stage across the dunes from Pisco to San Juan de Marcona in 40th position, with the bikesunusually running behind the cars.

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The Pretoria lad dropped a few positions navigating a difficult opening sector where several riders were lost. “I never quite had the day I planned, but who can plan for much at the Dakar Rally?” Kenny explained “I started out OK , but then Laia Sanz and I realised we had missed Waypoint 1 and turned back and I lost a few minutes doing that. “From there I just put my head down and did a bit of catching up.

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“Unfortunately I had to search out another waypoint late in the day and that lost a bit more time and dropped from 35th to 42nd — not quite what I wanted today, but hey, we’re still in it. “ I’m happy to have 20% of the race done and dusted, but there’s 80% still to complete, but that said, me and the bike are well and at this stage that’s what really counts — I am learning all the time and looking forward to tomorrow — bring it on!

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The Husqvarna’s factory team also continued its good form into the second day of Dakar 2019 — Chilean rider Pablo Quintanilla came in fifth to end the day in that position overall and well within striking distance of the leader home second overall with his US teammate Andrew Short came home 9th to move up to 7th overall..

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Kenny’s Dakar effort is supported by Husqvarna Motorcycles South Africa, Pepson Plastics, Gilberts Mining and Scottish Cables; Booysens Refrigeration, Liqui Moly, TRP Distributors, Michelin, Renthal, Leatt Brace and FCR Suspension; Imperium Fire proofing, Tell-Radio and Am2PM; DripDrop, Fulvic Health and Velden Motoren.

Wednesday’s third day sees competitors racing 331km of the 799km run through the arid wastes between San Juan de Marcona and Arequipa, including an ominous new dune challenge called Acari for the first time.